Middlebury Community Schools is saying goodbye to two teachers who met at York Elementary School, got married and have spent their careers impacting students.
Ralph and Sandy Fireoved are retiring. Ralph Fireoved taught fifth grade for 44 years at York Elementary School and Heritage Intermediate School. Sandy Fireoved has spent just over 39 years at York Elementary, where she taught first grade.
“Ralph and Sandy are going to be missed tremendously. I’ve never known two people more dedicated to their craft,” said Middlebury Community Schools Superintendent Jane Allen.
Sandy Fireoved had a mastery of teaching students to read, Allen said.
“She built confidence in them,” Allen said. “When I was the principal at York Elementary, I loved to go in her classroom and just watch her teach, watch somebody change lives right before my eyes.”
Allen said Ralph Fireoved has been one of the most even-tempered, patient teachers at his grade level.
“Ralph had a student with such serious behavior problems that some didn’t think he should be allowed to go on the field trip to Chicago,” Allen said. “Ralph was insistent that he get to go. ‘He will be my partner all day long,’ Ralph said. When they got off the bus, that boy took his hand and never let go. His students did what he wanted them to do because they wanted to.”
The Fireoveds had been in the district for such a long time, they got the chance to see generations of families come and go.
"I’ve had students in class, and then had their children as students,” said Ralph.
Sandy Fireoved was even surprised with a familiar face when Santa Claus came to her classroom one year.
“One year the Santa greeted me by my maiden name, and then I recognized him,” said Sandy. “You know you are getting old when you had Santa Claus in your class!”
The Fireoveds had some advice for parents.
“If you want your kids to be successful in school, you should teach your children to do what adults tell them to do and not talk back,” Ralph Fireoved said. “Also, taking your family to church is very important to their success in life.”
“When you have a child, your life is not just about you anymore. What you do is tempered by what your kids need,” Sandy Fireoved said. “Your kids need all of you, and they don’t deserve to be resented.”
Former students asked to sign banner for retiring teachers
York Elementary School parent, Rose Knapp, is collecting signatures on banners for Sandy Fireoved and Mrs. Myers, a York Elementary second-grade teacher who has been teaching for 28 years and is also retiring. Former students can sign the banners at the Middlebury Public Library until Monday, June 2. Knapp will also put a signature on the banners for former students who live out of town or can’t make it to the Middlebury Public Library. Former students can text Knapp at 574-370-2683 to add their signatures and short messages to the banner.