Do you remember ditto machines and the blue ink it took to run them?
How about film projectors where the film had to be spooled and then fed into the machine?
Ronald Beringer remembers those things all too well. His 30-year teaching career started out with “ditto machines and you would get blue all over. We had to learn how to load film projectors to show a movie. There was no such thing as a VCR,” Ron shared.
Computers were barely even on the radar 30 years ago and “when they did start, you had to load them with DOS to boot them up. We taught students typing on a typewriter and they didn’t even plug in,” he added.
A lot of things have happened in his 30-year teaching career and a lot of things have changed. And he has loved every minute of it. But now, it is time to move out of the classroom and make a change in lesson plans with the focus being on Ron, his family and how to enjoy his retirement.
Ron currently teaches Special Education to sixth through eighth graders needing a little extra assistance in Cut Bank Middle School.
“I work with students with some physical needs or emotional needs such as Autism, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy or emotionally disturbed students. I also spent one year working part-time at Anna Jeffries Elementary School in the morning working with students there and then returned back to the middle school to work there during the afternoon,” said Ron.
“One year I even taught one period of eighth grade history to help out due to large numbers in Mr. Schilling’s history class,” he explained.
Ron and his family came to Cut Bank in 1994 after living and working in California where he did several jobs, one of them teaching history and English in Richmond, Calif.
While in California he earned his Special Education endorsement and worked in Sacramento at court school for three years.
“We moved back to Montana when our kids, Cynthia and Christian, were getting to school age as we wanted to raise them out of the California lifestyle,” he explained.
For one year, Ron taught at Joplin-Inverness where he worked in the district special education department. He also coached basketball and track at Joplin-Inverness.
This year marks his 30th anniversary of being in the classroom, with 25 of those years being here in Cut Bank.
As a teenager, Ron realized he enjoyed working with younger kids. He was a lifeguard and a swim instructor while in high school and “had a blast,” he said. His mother was a fifth-grade teacher and he remembered helping her out on field trips, grading papers and decorating her classroom. Those early years sealed his fate of what profession he would eventually call his own, teaching.
“I love working with young adults, watching the learning light pop on for them and getting excited about what they are learning in school. The most rewarding thing in teaching is when students understand something they have struggled with,” he said. “As a teacher, you have the ability to change and shape so many young lives. I feel that as a teacher, I have been the father that many of my students didn’t have at home.”
While some days in the classroom have left Ron “shaking your head and wondering what good you are doing. But the next day, out of the blue, a student will surprise you with something they remember or learned. Each day is different and new and you never know what will happen next. Even on bad days, I see what I do as rewarding and in some way I am touching a young person’s life in a positive way.”
With retirement being close enough for Ron to almost touch, he is starting to realize the things he will miss about getting up every morning and doing what he has loved doing for 30 years, teaching.
“I will miss the kids the most. I still love talking, playing, teasing, listening and learning with the kids,” he shared.
“I will really miss Cut Bank Schools, it has been a big part of my life. We watched state football championships, speech and drama meets and many choir programs throughout the years. I have been able to coach and watch the kids swim and play baseball during the summer. I have enjoyed watching the many young adults as they have progressed through the school system. I have seen children at H.C. Davis running around the playground and then have seen those same kids leave high school and start families of their own,” he reminisced.
When you love something, it is hard to let it go and that is exactly how Ron feels about leaving his teaching career. However, there comes a time in life when you know what you have been working for and you not only need to take that next step, but want to as well. Ron is at that point.
In retirement, Ron and his wife Carolyn will be spending “more time with family, the dogs and maybe get out and fish, hunt and hike more. We love to travel and being retired should help open up more places to see on our bucket list.”
He concluded, “I will miss teaching, coaching, the staff and students in Cut Bank as they have been a very important part of my life, which I will never forget.”