Southwestern Middle School sixth-grade teachers, left to right, Marsha Daugherty, Patti Frazier and Lisa Garrett are retiring this year. Each has been at the school for more than 30 years. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Southwestern Middle School sixth-grade teachers, left to right, Marsha Daugherty, Patti Frazier and Lisa Garrett are retiring this year. Each has been at the school for more than 30 years. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
There will be some new faces among the teaching ranks at Southwestern Middle School next year. Three of the school's four sixth-grade teachers are retiring.

Earlier this week, Patti Frazier, Marsha Daugherty and Lisa Garrett each taught their final classes at the school - ending 107 years of combined teaching experience.

Each teacher has more than 30 years of teaching experience. The only sixth-grade teacher returning to Southwestern Middle School next year is science teacher Don White.

Frazier taught math, and has been at the school for 37 years. Daugherty taught social studies, and has been at the school for 36 years. Garrett, a language arts teacher, was at the school for 34 years. 

"I always told kids that I'm lucky because I teach with my friends," Frazier said. "Not a lot of people can say they work with their friends."

Seeing each other at school five days a week was fun, Frazier said, but the trio still found time to see each other after work. But even then, the conversation didn't stray far from the classroom.

"Most of the time when we're doing things socially, we were talking about school," Garrett said.

Together, the teachers worked to make the sixth-grade different from other grade levels. 

They often worked together scheduling field trips, after-school activities and even themes for the school year.

"We've tried to make sixth grade an experience, instead of just another grade level," Daugherty said.

"We've always been a team that just worked together," Frazier added.

Seeing each other every day is one of the things each teacher said they would miss about retirement, but they each came to the conclusion that the timing was right to move on. 

Recent state changes regarding teacher pensions made the decision to retire a little easier, because all three knew retirement was around the corner.

"Financially, it just made more sense to do it now," Daugherty said.

While they will miss each other, they all think they'll miss their students most of all.

"What it all comes down to, is the kids are the reason we got into it. We still love that part. We love this age group," Frazier said.