Retiring math teacher Deb Young shows off a quilt the staff at York Suburban Middle School made to honor her 38-year career. The quilt features patches
Retiring math teacher Deb Young shows off a quilt the staff at York Suburban Middle School made to honor her 38-year career. The quilt features patches from T-shirts and other matierals highlighting activities she has done over the years. (Andrew Shaw photo)

York Suburban Middle School math teacher Deb Young may have found the secret to academic success.

Retiring.

The 38-year veteran, who had her last day a week ago, told her students around February she was retiring.

Young said one student who had a rough year to that point turning in homework took the retirement news to heart.

"He said, 'Mrs. Young, I have a gift for you for your retirement,'" Young, 61, recalled. "'I will not miss one homework assignment the rest of the year.' And he didn't. He didn't miss one."

Young then laughed as she added that the student was exasperated by the end of the year, hoping for an end to the homework.

Young has now given her last homework assignments, graded her last tests, and on June 7 was packing up the classroom where she taught pre-algebra.

"It's the most rewarding job," Young said.

For 38 years: She's spent the past 13 years at York Suburban after 25 years at Red Lion. Although she's a math teacher, her first Red Lion job was as an English and social studies teacher because jobs were tough to come by.

But when she got the chance to teach math, she jumped at it.

Young said even in her 38th year, she encountered new things; she had to teach an 80-minute class this year instead of 40 minutes. That inspired her to implement "brain breaks," since, she said, middle school minds don't easily consume 80 minutes of math in a row.


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"We did them and it works," Young said.

Young's impact went beyond formulas and figures, though. As dean of students, she helped create school spirit assemblies to honor

students who do activities beyond the classroom.

And the school started having orange and black clothing days, too. It helped earn Young the moniker "Spirit Queen."

"You need that feeling of community," Young said.

The Spirit Queen got to carry out one final tradition on her next-to-last day.

At the school on the final half-day, all teachers come outside to wave to students as they pull away in buses, with students opening all the windows.

Usually, Young waves in triumph of another year finished and a new one a few months away.

This time, it was a final goodbye.

"It's the last time you're going to see them leave," Young said.

Maybe not the last. Young said she's hoping to do some tutoring in the future.

-- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com