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JEFFERSON CITY - In the lounge of Primrose Retirement Communities, the air was filled with laughter and stories of being an educator. The smiles from ear to ear showed the passion on each face.

A group of retired educators used to spend their time in a classroom, but now they enjoy their time within their retirement community. Although retired, their years teaching will never be forgotten.

The educators within the community have nearly 300 years of teaching experience combined.

A Teacher's Gift

Robert Mitchell taught for 44 years. Mitchell taught in Dallas for two years and shortly after came to Jefferson City in 1958 where he taught at Lincoln University for 42 years. 

Over the last several decades, Mitchell has written 20-30 musical compositions and arrangements.

In addition to teaching, he was the minister of music at Grace Episcopal Church.
Mitchell founded the Lincoln University Vocal Ensemble and directed the university choir. Lincoln University named its auditorium after Mitchell and his late wife Charlene Mitchell. He retired in 2000.
Mitchell said many of his students come back and visit him. 
"I'm so happy many of my students have gone on to win awards," he said.
Mitchell had two goals for each of his students.
"I wanted to teach them how to be respectful citizens and professional musicians," he said.
Mitchell joins his former student, Judy Hinshaw, in the retirement community. 

Hinshaw taught mathematics for 20 years in Jefferson City. 

"I taught children who are the light of my life," she said.

Hinshaw said it all started with her family being in education. She has a son and daughter-in-law who recently retired as educators. 

"I now have a granddaughter who is teaching and her husband is a coach, so we kind of touch all fields," Hinshaw said. 

She said the most rewarding experience of being an educator was seeing the smile of a child, when seeing them catch on.

Currently, Hinshaw serves as the director of the church library.

"I still enjoy being with children even in retirement," she said. 

Educators within the community

Beverly Buhr taught elementary for nine years in many places.

John Griffith spent 32 years teaching between St. Joseph and Jefferson City.

Ray Snell and his wife, Loa Snell, spent their time being educators in Nebraska. Ray was an educator for 37 years, while Loa was an educator for 32 years. 

Jan Watson has a teaching degree, but never actually taught in a classroom. Watson left her impact by mentoring through Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and many other organizations.

Jennie DeClue taught Missouri History and psychology between 30 and 40 years in Washington County and Jefferson City.

Cyrilla Doerhoff had a very short teaching career of two years, but it was unique. She became a teacher straight out of high school and taught at a rural school, K-8 with 48 children. 

Although not an educator, Richard Watson spent his time as a doctor for over 50 years. 

Leaving behind a legacy 

They all agree that the most rewarding experience is the impact that they have left behind. 

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