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Longtime Meridian teacher retires after 47 years

After 47 years, Willow Creek Elementary teacher Kathryn Payte watched her last kindergarten class walk the stage.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Tuesday marked the end of a bittersweet milestone for a Meridian teacher. Many gathered to honor Willow Creek Elementary teacher, Kathryn Payte and watch her last kindergarten class graduate.

Willow Creek Elementary Principal, Jared Christensen said,” While she's been here, we've called her the 'Kindergarten Whisperer' because she speaks kindergarten better than any teacher I've ever seen.”

As this chapter closes, Mrs. Payte remembers the 47 years of lessons.

"I never keep the same lesson plans from day to day because things change as their interest change,” said Mrs. Payte.

She also remembered the many students that joined her classrooms.

"The best part is learning about each child and their personalities. Learning what their needs are,” said Mrs. Payte.

After 47 years of teaching, 9 of them at Willow Creek Elementary, Mrs. Payte says goodbye to her students as she heads to retirement.

"When I decided to retire, it was very emotional, but there comes a time when you need to move on,” said Mrs. Payte.

During her career, she taught preschool through 9th grade. She says her passion for teaching started in high school.

"I started working in classrooms in high schools and visited the different primary schools near my high school and that's when I knew that's what I wanted to do,” said Mrs. Payte.

Mrs. Payte says one of her favorite parts of being a teacher is hearing from students years later and knowing they still remember her.

"When I go to different stores or restaurants or just walking around students come up to me and call out to me. It makes me feel wonderful that they remember their kindergarten, 1st grade, whatever grade level I had them in,” said Payte.

After more than 4 decades of influencing students, many gathered to watch her say goodbye to the last class that will remember her for years to come.

During the ceremony, Principal Christensen said,” "For all the kids that have been in her classroom in the last 47 years, they've received the very best of a very special woman.”

She says this is a hard goodbye, but she is looking forward to her next adventure full of endless possibilities. One thing is certain, she will be missed.

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