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Retiring Canfield math teacher hopes to divide time among family, education and Mickey D’s

Published: Mon, March 21, 2011 @ 12:06 a.m.


The Vindicator (Youngstown)

Debbie Haverstock, a math teacher for 36 years at Canfield Village Middle School, is retiring at the end of this school year. She has used her ability to play trumpet and employed other unexpected teaching methods over the years. “I’m as crazy as seven graders,” she said.

By Kristine Gill



Debbie Haverstock sees golden arches in her future.

“I’m going to follow some dreams,” said the Youngstown native and math teacher at Canfield Village Middle School.

Among them are becoming a pharmacy technician, spending time with her grandson and working at McDonald’s.

“I went to school in the 1960s, and my dad wouldn’t let me work,” she said. “School was my job. I always thought working at McDonald’s would be fun.”

Haverstock, 59, will have time to do just that once she retires in June after 36 years teaching math to middle school students.

“She’s been here a long time,” said seventh-grader Joey Ferraro.

Haverstock told her students about her retirement Wednesday.

“They were ready to party” Thursday, she said.

Though premature in this case, Haverstock loves to celebrate every occasion.

Her husband, a retired English teacher from Boardman schools, sends flowers to her classroom on her birthday each year, and she even tells students her age.

“We celebrate on my birthday, and I tell them they are to behave and have their homework done,” she said.

On the first day of school each year, she stands in front of the school as the buses arrive blaring Reveille on her trumpet. On the last day she plays taps as the final bus pulls away.

“I try to incorporate music,” she said. “I’m as crazy as seventh-graders are.”

She plays trumpet in Old North Church of Canfield’s brass band and the Canfield Community Concert Band.

On Thursday, she had her students memorize how to compute the circumference of a circle by singing the formula to the tune of Kumbaya.

“You guys laugh at me now, but I hear students humming this during the tests,” she said.

Having a sense of humor helps students learn difficult math concepts and keeps her sane, she said.

“With her it’s easy,” said student Grace Blasko.

“She just has a great way of teaching,” said student Victoria Pacheco.

A graduate of Westminster College and Kent State University, Haverstock was a track and cheerleading coach for Canfield for several years.

She is the adviser for two math groups: TAPS, Team Approach to Problem Solving and Math Counts, a group through the National Engineering Association. In 2009, she was the district’s recipient for the teacher of the year award through the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Haverstock has co-taught with fellow math teacher Diane Tirak since 1992.

“She has a great sense of humor,” Tirak added. “She says if you’re going to teach this grade, you have to laugh.”

Though she’s going to miss her students, Haverstock is looking forward to possibly serving french fries and tackling whatever new venture comes her way.

“I’ve loved this job for 36 years,” she said. “I’m excited to start a new chapter.”

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