At the age of 102, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh education alumna Audrey Guhl Pomraning ’68 and ’76 MSE, of Oshkosh, has some tried and true advice for new graduates as they enter the teaching profession.
“If you love what you’re doing, you’ll love going to work and you’ll enjoy it,” she said.
Pomraning spent 20 years in the same classroom at Merrill Elementary School in Oshkosh, which was her second career following years spent working in offices at Sears and elsewhere.
She first took classes at UWO in the mid-1930s before dropping out and going to business school. Many years later in the mid-1960s, a lifelong friend, Betty Radke Harmann ’39, ’66 MST, convinced Pomraning to return to UWO.
“Betty encouraged me to finish my degree. She took classes, too,” she explained.
Pomraning loved her evening classes, especially English literature and psychology. “I had great teachers. Dr. Cech was tough for psychology, and you had to study to know the material. But if you are interested, it comes easier,” she said.
Although her initial goal in returning to college was to become a kindergarten teacher, second-graders stole her heart. “I really like second-graders. They change so much. They come in as babies, really, and they learn to do so many things throughout the year,” she said.
The educational climate is very different today, with so much violence in society, Pomraning noted.
“I hope it’s an accepting environment for kids who are a little different,” she said. “You have to meet the needs of kids where they are at, and it’s possible. You have to put yourself in their position. Everybody learns differently. But when you have 30 kids in a class, that’s hard to do.”
Through monthly lunches, Pomraning stays in touch with other retired teachers from Merrill. She also remains involved with P.E.O., an international women’s organization that focuses on providing educational opportunities for female students worldwide.
For Pomraning, one of teaching’s best rewards is getting visits from or running into former students around town.
“I really like to see that they turned out so well,” she said.