Overton teacher retires after 24 years

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — For years, Dinah Carpenter’s fourth-grade classroom at Overton Elementary School was a playground for the imagination.
Every corner of the room was filled with books, posters, photos, poems and trinkets to draw students in.
“I want the room to be warm and inviting because I always tell them this is where you are going to be, this is your room,” Carpenter said. “It’s very important that they have a good feeling when they walk in my room.”
But the walls of room No. 209 were bare Wednesday as Carpenter packed up her classroom.
After 24 years of teaching, she retired at the end of this year. Carpenter is just one of more than 34 teachers who retired from the Rowan-Salisbury School System this year.
“Dinah is an amazing fourth grade teacher,” parent Elizabeth Brady said in an email to the Post. “Her retirement will be a huge loss to Overton.”
Brady said her son, Marshall, enjoyed Carpenter’s lively lessons.
“Dinah has a way of making history come to life with trips to graveyards and old Setzer school,” Brady said.
Marshall said he still remembers the adventures he had in Carpenter’s classroom.
“She was a really good teacher. She had tons of fun events,” he said.
Carpenter said her teaching style is completely hands-on.
During the fall, she fills up bird and squirrel feeders and encourages students to look outside, teaching them about animals and natural habitats.
“After lunch if we had leftovers we would take it out behind the school and throw it out on the ground and wait a couple of hours for deer and other animals to come,” Marshall said.
Carpenter also transforms into a pirate to teach students about the legends of Blackbeard and other famous pirates.
And at the beginning of the year, each student gets to try on Harry Potter’s sorting hat and hear that they are picked to be in Mrs. Carpenter’s class.
“I think it’s important for a child to experience pretending and using their imagination,” Carpenter said.
Principal Betty Tunks said Carpenter’s unique personality will be missed at Overton.
“Her interest in science and history really captivates the students and it shows academically, so there is a transfer,” she said.
Carpenter started out her teaching career as a substitute before deciding to go back to Catawba College to get her teaching certification.
“I had that natural feeling that I could do it,” she said. “It came easy to me, it wasn’t like I was doing something because I had to ….I really enjoyed it.”
After stepping into the classroom full time, Carpenter never looked back.
“I enjoy working with children because they are eager to learn and if you present material in the right way and they are interested that’s when you are going to catch them,” she said.
Carpenter said the most rewarding thing about teaching has been giving students the confidence to succeed.
“I had a little boy this year who I knew could do it but I had to really help him understand that he could,” she said. “Over half the year went by and I saw a big change … I was so proud of him.”
When students leave her class, Carpenter said she also hopes they take good memories with them.
“I hope they enjoyed the year,” she said. “I do show them a side of me that I think kids ought to know. I have humor and we laugh a lot.”
Carpenter doesn’t have any specific plans for her retirement. She might volunteer or work as a substitute teacher.
“There is so much that I can do that I’m not going to jump into anything,” she said. “I’m just going to see what strikes my fancy.”
But Carpenter said a trip is likely in the works for the first week of school.
“It’s going to be sad and bad,” she said. “I’ve already decided that I might be away that week.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.