The Cotteral Elementary staff celebrated the 88th birthday of long-time substitute teacher Dorothy Ritchie on Monday morning. Ritchie lived here adult working life teaching at schools in Texas and moved to Guthrie after her retirement. It wasn't long after she retired from teaching that she realized she wanted to do it again. Ever since 1996, Ritchie has been substitute teaching in Guthrie schools.
"I have taught business subjects and language arts in junior high and high school. ... Now I am teaching these kids and I thought to myself that maybe I should have been teaching these aged kids all along," Ritchie said.
She explained that teaching and helping students is what she is meant to do and she loves doing it. When considering why she is so passionate about teaching, she compared it to her late husbands love of golf. Ritchie said that her husband loved to golf and would do it as often as he could and teaching was her golf.
"It makes my day to get to do this, I would be climbing the walls if I didn't have this to do," Ritchie said.
One of the Pre-Kindergarten teachers at the school, Rhonda Gillett, organized a surprise party for Ritchie. When the substitute teacher came to the school that morning, she walked into the staff room to find it decorated with 'Happy Birthday' signs and a potluck lunch.
"It was the easiest birthday party to organizebecause, everyone in the school just loves her so much. I mean, I want to be her when I grow up. I brought up the idea and everyone immediately wanted to pitch in and help," Gillett said.
Ritchie was enjoying the potluck lunch pulled together by the other staff and talking with those teachers. However, Gillett had a few more surprises in store. As Ritchie was eating and talking to a couple of teachers, her family came into the room while Ritchie had her back to the door. Gillett called to Ritchie and saw her family and began to cry with joy.
After she hugged her family members and introduced them to the staff members who were in the room, the Cotteral Principal brought out a birthday cake as well.
After the initial shock of seeing her family at the school, Gillett gave Ritchie one final surprise. She asked Ritchie to sit down and handed her several birthday presents that the school had pulled together.
Ritchie was grateful for the appreciation from the staff and for her family who came to celebrate with her at the school.