by Lisa Tome
Michelle Montgomery was very happy last August when classroom assignments were announced at Conowingo Elementary School.
Montgomery's daughter, Jordyn, got assigned to Karen Baker's kindergarten class.
"I had her for third grade and she was a wonderful teacher. I was so excited when Jordyn got her. I was so hoping for Ms. Baker," said Montgomery. "With a kindergarten teacher, you want to be comfortable."
But multi-generations having Baker has come to an end.
After teaching at Conowingo since 1981, Baker will retire at the end of the school year.
"I've taught kindergarten through third grade. I like first grade the best. I had that the longest," said Baker.
She has seen significant changes during her tenure. The school building underwent a major renovation. She also served under five different principals. She also said that children are different than they were when she started.
"I don't think they have as much imagination now. They have video games. But kids still want to please you," said Baker. "There are a lot more demands on kids now. They have less time to be a kid and more academics. I've seen play time disappear. The demands in kindergarten used to be (what was learned) in first grade."
She was born in West Virginia and moved to Harford County with her family when her father was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground. She was hired at Conowingo after graduating from Frostburg State College. She stayed at the school her entire career.
"I've been here 32 years. I have worked since I was 16. I want to take some art classes now and take a year off," said Baker.
She also wants to focus on training her dogs and painting. But admits she will miss her school family. "Missing my school family will be the hardest thing. But this will be the first August I have off in forever," added Baker.