North Kitsap kindergarten teacher calling it quits after 20 years

Gordon Elementary’s kindergarden teacher Pat Pearson is retiring this year from the school. Pearson has started class each day with students singing and dancing to the piano. They take turns with solos and duets. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Gordon Elementary’s kindergarden teacher Pat Pearson is retiring this year from the school. Pearson has started class each day with students singing and dancing to the piano. They take turns with solos and duets.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

KINGSTON — His past and present students describe him as funny and a really, really great teacher.

His colleagues say he’s very giving, hilarious, animated and lots of fun with the kids.

All agree Gordon Elementary full-day kindergarten teacher Pat Pearson will be dearly missed.

After a nearly 20-year teaching career with the North Kitsap School District, Pearson is retiring from the classroom.

Pearson has taught around the state for 31 years and began his memorable NKSD teaching career in 1988 as a kindergarten teacher at Wolfle and Suquamish elementary schools. He also taught at Breidablik Elementary and served as president of North Kitsap Teachers before landing at Gordon Elementary in 1997. In 1998 he became the school’s full-day kindergarten teacher, a position he’s filled since.

A life-long career as a kindergarten teacher was the perfect fit for Gordon Elementary’s Outstanding Educator of the year.

“They are so fresh and you get to see a group of kids from all different backgrounds come together as a class,” Pearson said. “I know they are going to learn so much in spite of what I do because they just enjoy being here.”

Pearson, 52, said he was eligible for retirement last year and decided to retire this year, as an opportunity to become the North Kitsap Teachers’ president opened up, a post in which he served from 1995-97.

While Pearson may be retiring from the classroom, he said if he had the chance to start all over he’d go back to teaching.

“I’ve just really enjoyed it,” said the man who doesn’t have children of his own, but has helped raise hundreds of NKSD kids. “I would do it all over again. I have never gotten up and said ‘I don’t want to go to work.’ The little kids are just so loving and they want to make you happy.”

The kids may make Pearson happy, but he in return he’s made his students and the entire Gordon Elementary community infectious with joy.

A joy Claudia Alves, Gordon principal for seven years, will sorely miss.

When asked about Pearson as a teacher and an individual Alves recited an exhausting list of character traits, stories and memories that define the care and diligence Pearson applied to his career.

His generosity topped Alves’ list.

Alves said Pearson always did a little something extra for his students, often at his own financial expense.

Every year he hosts a year kick-off pizza feast and an end-of-the-year barbecue, his room brims with craft materials and toys, on conference days Pearson visits the students and their parents at home and the newsletter he sends home each Friday is always printed on the “cutest paper.”

“I’ve never seen a bill so I assume he pays for all that,” said Alves, who’ll miss making eye contact and faces at Pearson during the assemblies. “He’s really giving as far as the school is concerned.”

He’s giving to the community as well.

At the beginning of the year, a family who’d recently moved to the district needed a little help settling in. Alves said, Pearson was there to lend a helping hand.

“Pat came in with a check and said, ‘I’ve just got a little bit extra right now and I want to give it to them,’” she said.

But it’s more than Pearson’s generosity that’ll be missed — his quirky routines will leave a void.

When Pearson brings his students in from recess he stops them in front of the office to perform calming breathing exercises, and he also never shies away from “calling people out.”

“Sometimes when he does it gives us a different way of looking at things and we’ll miss that,” Alves said.

Pearson’s classroom etiquette won’t soon be forgotten either.

Aside from kicking the school day off with a round of piano playing and singing that’s loved by all, Pearson’s teaching style is chalked full of fun-filled learning.

Full-day kindergarten student Matthias Greene, likes when Mr. Pearson reads stories and pretends he doesn’t know something, even though he really does. Classmate Izabel Poole, enjoys when Mr. Pearson confuses “U” with “You.”

“When we say ‘U’ he says ‘not me,’ because we mean the letter “U,’” Poole said with a giggle. “A long time ago (a classmate) said ‘I’ and he said ‘what’s wrong with your eye?’ She meant the letter ‘I.’”

Even students Pearson taught in kindergarten who are now in the fifth grade remember the good times — show and tell, singing, art projects, learning the really “big word” fantastic and learning about Japan and eating Japanese food with chopsticks.

“We’d do fun things almost every moment,” said fifth-grader Oliver Price. “We should have a Mr. Pearson class reunion.”

Although colleagues and students praise Pearson for his many talents, Pearson trumps the praise with his humility card.

When asked about his teaching legacy, Pearson played it coy.

“I try to be positive. I can be a little grumpy. I have my off days, I’m not a perfect teacher,” he said, with a sparkle in his eyes. “I just try to help them become more independent learners, that’s always been my goal.”

Pearson also has a list of things he’ll miss — playing the piano, the staff camaraderie, a structured day and constantly being around people.

“I’ve really enjoyed that part of my career, the singing and dancing,” he said. But he also anticipates starting his new position. “I enjoyed it the first time I did it, so I want to do it again.”

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