A special retirement party was held at Pine Island Elementary School last Tuesday for a Pam Anderson, who has been a part of the school since the early 1980s.
Anderson said she kind of fell into teaching due to having 32 first cousins on one side of her family. She said she began teaching Sunday school at the age of 16 and while in college she participated in the work-study program, which allowed her to teach while pursing her education.
Once college was completed, Anderson decided to fly from Iowa to Southwest Florida because of a friend who lived on Captiva. Once she arrived on Captiva, she said she lived in the "Ding" Darling stilt house for awhile where she encountered her first paid teaching job.
Pam Anderson, who recently retired after more than 30 years in the Lee County School District, spent the majority of her career at Pine Island Elementary School.
Anderson began working at Children's Center of the Islands, which was the old Bailey's General Store. That first teaching job had her working with preschool students.
"I lived on Captiva and worked on Sanibel either teaching or doing other jobs for five years and then moved to Pine Island at the end of 1978," Anderson said.
In the fall of 1979 she began working for the Lee County School District, which included working at Migrant Early Childhood in Fort Myers. Three years after starting with the district, she began working at Pine Island Elementary School.
With more than 30 years in the Lee County School District, Anderson was a Chapter 1 teacher (reading specialist), prep specialist, curriculum technology specialist, as well as the volunteer coordinator for Pine Island Elementary School.
"I have always been passionate of education and the neighborhood schools," Anderson said.
She said she enjoys neighborhood schools because she has conferences with parents everywhere.
"When you are buying the peanut butter and jelly mix in aisle two, someone comes up and says something about their child," Anderson said. "It's wonderful, I have never seen anything like this neighborhood thing. They take care of one another."
Anderson said she is very grateful for having the opportunity to work in the Pine Island Community, as well as the community school. She said she worked with some of the best students, parents and teachers around.
Now with retirement in her future she said she wants to take gardening classes, continue to teach Sunday school and do a lot of volunteering.
"I'm going to take a deep breath and get organized," she said on her last day with Pine Island Elementary School.