Judith Ann McBride is passionate about teaching and has demonstrated that passion for over 40 years.

Judith Ann McBride is passionate about teaching and has demonstrated that passion for over 40 years. The 63-year old elementary school teacher at Willow Wind Community Learning Center said she came to teaching in the 1970s because she liked kids and because she always knew that teaching was valuable work.

"I feel that teaching is my political and social contribution. I believe that educating, like parenting consciously, is a really important job," said McBride.

As she nears retirement, after living and teaching in Ashland since 1987, McBride says she is still in love with teaching and inspired by the potential of all the young people that come into her life.

Yuki Sabo Yamanouchi, one of McBride's second-grade students, said she's happy McBride is her teacher.

"She's really nice. She's teaching me math and science and it's fun. I learn a lot," she said.

Dana Yeardsley, an instructor at Willow Wind, said McBride was also her children's teacher at Lincoln Elementary years ago.

"All my kids enjoyed her. She wasn't afraid to try new things, and she was really great at integrating the parents with the curriculum," said Yeardsley.

Willow Wind parent Michelle Keller also admires McBride.

"The children adore her and respect her. She provides clear expectations and asks them to rise up to them," said Keller.

McBride says she likes to fully engage students in their topics. She has had students re-create life on the Oregon Trail, investigate oil spill clean-up options, and re-create geological eras.

"Science comes alive when it is hands-on," said McBride.

She spoke with the Daily Tidings about inspiring students and involving parents in the classroom.

DT: What is one of your favorite aspects of teaching?

JAB: I love watching the kids change and grow.

DT: How would you describe your teaching style?

JAB: Encouraging parent involvement has been my thing. Having parents regularly in the classroom enriches the curriculum classroom, and I think it is important to have kids work with different adults. Parents bring so much to the class and I want them to know how valuable their contribution is.

DT: What is a challenge in regard to teaching?

JAB: You never really know the affect you have on a child. You may have test scores, but the returns are often not in until down the road. If a teacher is lucky he or she might have a relationship with a student throughout their life and will see how they have turned out.

DT: Do you have a particularly memorable moment in your career?

JAB: I think one of my favorite experiences was at Lincoln Elementary when my class was studying the geology of this area. I had a parent who worked at the Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab and another who worked for the BLM tree nursery. For 5 days, we created a different environment in the classroom that reflected a particular geological era in history. The first day was the ice age. We made the room very cold and covered specimens from the lab with plastic to resemble ice. The kids received a scavenger hunt sheet when they arrived for the day, walking through what resembled an ice curtain. Their hunt was to find indicators of that period on the earth.

DT: Are you doing a project with your students this semester?

JAB: We're studying the human body, and creating different models of body systems. We've built a spine, an arm, and a cell.

DT: Do you have children?

JAB: I have two wonderful grown children. Both children went through the Ashland schools, graduating as successful students. Molly is 34, lives in Paris and is working as a midwife. Jonah is 31, and he is a computer vision scientist.

DT: What are your interests outside of work?

JAB: I love to garden and talk about gardening with my lifelong friends who also garden. I also love to hike, camp, kayak, cross-country ski and cook.

DT: Do you have trouble balancing work with your other interests?

JAB: I don't know any other way. Putting in a lot of time is what it takes to do a quality job.

DT: Do you have any advice for someone interested in teaching now?

JAB: Get lots of sleep and take your vitamins. The most important part of teaching is to inspire and instill a love of learning.