Virginia Reinken thinks today will be a typical day. The Coronado High School computer technology teacher doesn’t think she’ll get misty when she ends 50 years in the Scottsdale Unified School District.
“I don’t have emotion right now; I’m giving finals exams,” Reinken said Wednesday, wearing an “I (heart) Coronado” button. “I know other people might do something about it, but I’m just coming in to do my job. We’re all packing up because this building will be torn down.”
It’s a position Reinken, 73, has been in before. She spent 27 years as a business teacher at Scottsdale High School before it closed in 1983.
Her feelings may be different because Coronado will be rebuilt, but she won’t be there when the new Coronado opens. Nor will Reinken be on hand Aug. 21, the first day of the 2006-07 school year. She’s heading to suburban Chicago to visit a sister — the better to keep her mind out of the classroom, she said.
“(Today) will be like a regular end-of-school year,” Reinken said, “but I probably won’t realize what’s happening until it’s time I should be going back to school. I’m going to Illinois in case there’s any emotional feeling.”
Those who worked with Reinken say they admire and respect her. Teacher Kathy Richards, who has known Reinken for 34 years, is happy for her friend and colleague.
“It’s time for her to go and have fun,” Richards said. “She needs to travel and not be on a schedule. She really deserves it.
“The thing that impressed me most about Ginny was that when typewriters gave way to computers, she could have retired. Others did. She took the summer (of 1990) and learned about computers.”
Reinken, who taught one year in Texas before coming to the Valley, admitted she could have called it a career earlier. “People think I’m strange because I continued for so long,” she said.
One of Reinken’s students, Erik Miranda, said he found the teacher strict — but in a good way.
“She was always on my case,” Miranda said. “But I started to realize that she did it to help me. I wound up getting better grades.”
Reinken calls Miranda and myriad others she taught the children she never had. She thinks her love and caring for students aided her longevity. She said she hopes she has taught them not only how to use computers — a skill she said they’ll need their whole lives — but structure and lessons that can be carried into adulthood.
“Kids are different from when I started teaching, of course,” Reinken said. “But, no matter what the age or time, one thing has stayed the same: They know if you care and want them to succeed. They know you respect them. And, they respect you.”
On Tuesday, one of her former Scottsdale High students dropped off a bouquet of roses. “I hadn’t seen her in 31 years,” Reinken said of the student. “We didn’t recognize each other. My hair was golden then.”
Now, so’s her district teaching tenure. And her outlook on life.