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Gardner retiring after 38 years in the classroom

Lillian Gardner has taught kindergarten in Butler County for 28 years. Before that she spent 10 years as a kindergarten teacher in Monroe County. She will retire on April 30. (Advocate Staff/Andy Brown)

Lillian Gardner has taught kindergarten in Butler County for 28 years. Before that she spent 10 years as a kindergarten teacher in Monroe County. She will retire on April 30. (Advocate Staff/Andy Brown)

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Those words have certainly rang true for Lillian Gardner, who has spent the last 38 years teaching kindergartners in Monroe and Butler Counties.

Gardner will officially retire April 30, however, her last day in the classroom at W.O. Parmer Elementary School will be Friday.

“I have enjoyed every day of the last 38 years,” Gardner said. “I have loved it.”

During her career Gardner has seen a number of changes.

From chalkboards to SMART board, from notebook paper to iPads, from flash cards to smartphones, Gardner said the way students are learning is changing.

“Technology has changed everything,” she said. “Things used to be more hands on, but now we use iPads more. There’s so much more technology. We still have the hands on, but it’s different.”

Gardner said the creation of Bright Beginnings has also changed the role of the kindergarten teacher.

“The things we used to teach them, they learn now at Bright Beginnings,” she said. “Now in kindergarten, we are teaching them the things they used to learn in the first grade.”

A number of educators from Butler County gathered on Tuesday evening to for a tea to celebrate Gardner’s career and wish her well in retirement.  (Advocate Staff/Andy Brown)

A number of educators from Butler County gathered on Tuesday evening to for a tea to celebrate Gardner’s career and wish her well in retirement. (Advocate Staff/Andy Brown)

While the typical day of a kindergarten teacher and bits and pieces of the curriculum have changed during the nearly 40 years Gardner has been teaching, one things has remained the same — Gardner’s love of teaching.

“My most favorite thing about teaching kindergarten is seeing a student who was a blank slate when he or she started, begin to blossom around January,” she said. “You can see them start to get it, and that makes you feel good. I can look at them and know that I taught them something.”

A number of Gardner’s former students even followed in her footsteps and became educators themselves.

A number of educators from Butler County gathered on Tuesday evening to for a tea to celebrate Gardner’s career and wish her well in retirement.

While Gardner’s official retirement may be drawing near, her teaching days aren’t quite over.

She will remain over the education department at her church, St. Francis Missionary Baptist Church.

“I’ll still have a hand in teaching,” she said with a smile.