Monday, May 20, 2013

KCKCC retiree Loretta Bates looking to new experiences


After 44 years of teaching, Loretta Bates has decided it’s time for a change.

“I’m open to new experiences; there are no concrete plans,” says Bates, who will end a distinguished 21-year career of teaching in the Social Science Division of Kansas City Kansas Community College at the end of the Spring Semester.

Teaching, however, will not be part of those years that lie ahead.

“No, this it,” she says with emphasis. “I do hope to do more traveling. I know it’s going to be an adjustment come August without the structure of school life but life is going to provide many opportunities. It always has.”

Reaching the decision to retire, however, was not an easy one.

“It was very difficult. This has been my life since 1969. It’s who I am, how I define myself. That’s the difficulty. I have to leave part of me behind. But it’s just time, time to move on, time to change.”

“I believe Loretta Bates is one of the most student success oriented faculty members that I have ever known,” says Dr. Charles Wilson, Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “I have known her for more than 30 years starting at Donnelly College where she was my chair and there has not been a more committed professor. In addition to being a highly effective teacher, she is also one of the most gentle and kind souls and her fine teaching, collegiality and community spirit will be greatly missed.”

Growing up in Independence, Mo., Bates graduated in 1965 from St. Mary’s High School, which ironically is closing at the end of the current school.

“The hospital I was born in and the grade school I attended had already closed and now my high school,” she says.

However, the Loyola University of Chicago where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and UMKC where she received a Masters in Guidance and Counseling are still intact.

Bates joined a Franciscan convent in Nevada, Mo., right out of high school and began teaching in small country schools in 1969.

After three years at Montrose, she moved to Clinton for one year where she was also principal and then returned to Nevada for one year until the St. Francis Boarding High School for Girls closed.

“When the high school closed, the dean at Donnelly College came down to Nevada and interviewed several of the teachers,” says Bates, who was one of a handful of teachers who were hired.

For 17 years, she would teach at Donnelly, during which time she would leave the convent. “I changed, the community changed, everything was changing so it was not a hard decision.”

More change would come in 1991. “I saw a notice that KCKCC was looking for psychology teachers so I applied and was accepted,” says Bates of the start of a 21-year career of teaching Psychology, Development and Personal Adjustment. It is those days in the classroom that Bates will miss greatly.

“I really enjoyed the students, seeing them grow and change. And the feedback I’ve received makes me feel good. Students will stop me and tell me how they really enjoyed my class or that so and so had recommended my class and they were so glad they had taken it. That’s the part that’s hard to leave.”

She’ll also take away memories of great KCKCC spring trips abroad with the late Dr. Henry Louis including China, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. “Henry was an amazing person and his trips were so enriching,” says Bates.

“We got exposure to different cultures and the opportunity to have new experiences – trips that were just priceless.”

When her late parents started having health problems, Bates put a halt to traveling to take care of them but seeing more of the world again may well be part of those new experiences she’ll be having as a result of the change that retirement brings.