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When Nancy Goud became a teacher in 1961, the United States
was dealing with civil unrest. So when she landed her first-year teaching
assignment at an all African-American school in Lansing, Mich., during the
height of the race riots, Goud and her parents were nervous.

 

She took the job, anyway. “I told my parents, ‘You know, I can’t
be the teacher that I think I am if I don’t take this job,’” she recalled.

 

Goud immediately fell in love with the community, the
students and the families.
Nancy Goud

 

“I thought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and I were going to
save the world. I really did,” she said. “I became very active in the Civil
Rights Movement. Our school was fantastic. The parents in Lansing wanted their
kids to get an education. They respected us … the teachers were very highly
respected. It was fun. … But it was a government funded school and they closed
it after two years, then I got married and moved here (Indianapolis).”

 

Because of her experiences in Lansing, Goud immediately
requested to teach in the inner cities of Indianapolis. That request was
initially met with raised eyebrows. After stints at a couple of IPS schools,
she was relocated to Minnie Hartmann School 78 where she taught for 30 years,
until it closed.

 

“I fell in love with the people and the culture and
everything,” said Goud, about her time in Lansing and why she loves teaching in
the inner city. Now, with the growth of the Hispanic population in urban
schools, she’s learning more about that culture, too.

 

“I just like people, of course. I’m a very extroverted
person,” she said.

 

Today, at age 73, Goud is the senior most teacher within the
IPS district, and she’s still educating children in the inner city. Each
morning for the past seven years, Goud greets her first-grade students at Thomas D. Gregg School 15 with a
smile.

 

Having a teacher with decades of experience is an asset to
any school, said Thomas D. Gregg Interim Principal Ross Pippin.

 

“Mrs. Goud is an important asset to Thomas D. Gregg due in
large part to her seniority. Colleagues can’t help but respect Mrs. Goud for
her years of experience and have been known to bounce ideas off of her,” said
Pippin. “It is not uncommon for Mrs. Goud to take new teachers under her wing
and aid in their growth in the first couple of years.”

 

Serving as a mentor to younger teachers is also a testament
to her willingness to embrace new and innovative teaching methods.

 

When Goud began her career, there were no computers,
overhead projectors, worksheets or social media. She and her colleagues wrote
all of their assignments on the blackboard (often three days’ worth at a time);
communication with parents was via house visits; all parents attended school
meetings; and paddling errant children was an acceptable form of discipline. 

 

Despite the vast differences between old and new teaching
methods, Goud is not afraid to learn new skills and techniques. However, she admits
to incorporating tried and true methods every now and then, “because they still
work.”

 

She prefers to have multiple techniques at the ready,
because she knows that children don’t all learn the same way or at the same
time.

 

“I used to say, ‘We’re trying to get all Chevrolets when we
have a few Pontiacs and Buicks mixed in there,’” said Goud, a native of
Saginaw, Mich., with a chuckle. “I am willing to learn (a new method) and see
if it works. … You just might really like it, but you’re not going to know if
you just close the door.”

 

Pippin said principals value teachers who are willing to
adopt new initiatives and evolve with the times. “Having veteran teachers in
the building setting this type of example is irreplaceable.”

 

Technology, however, is still a mystery at times for Goud.

 

But the veteran educator — whose desire to become a teacher
was heightened as a little girl while watching (President Dwight D.) Eisenhower
on TV host his first-grade teacher at the White House — is not going to let a
newfangled thing like technology get in the way of teaching her students.

 

“One of my goals is to really learn technology, and the
young people in this building are wonderful and really help me a lot,” said Goud.

 

She knows how to text and use Facebook, and even work the
computers … sometimes. She receives helps with the computers in her room from some
of her youngest students. “It’s amazing to me. I have two little boys who can
fix the computers in the room,” she said. “(Them being able to teach me) makes
them feel good. … What I try to teach them, too, is that you never stop
learning.”

 

Pippin said in addition to Goud’s willingness to try new
teaching methods and mentor younger teachers, she’s always the first to take on
children who are seen as a challenge. Although she believes she’s “strict,”
students at Thomas D. Gregg come to her even when they get into trouble with other
teachers at the school.

 

“A lot of times they give me the children that need a real
structured environment because I’m structured, and you always start over with
me,” said Goud. “I don’t hold a grudge and they know that. If you got in
trouble today, you start over again tomorrow, and for some reason they pick
that up.”

 

She gravitates to them as well.

 

“I’m not sure why I like to take on the most challenging
students. Maybe it’s trying to figure out how to reach them,” she said. “What
can we do to help them out because a lot of times, nobody wants them and that’s
all they’ve experienced. So, if we can come up with a plan that helps them,
that to me is worth it. … It might be that they need a hug, or they need to
count to 10 or sit by me.”

 

Pippin believes Goud’s consistency helps to breakthrough the
most difficult of students.

 

“Consistent expectations and frequent parent contact
are critical in dealing with challenging students and because Mrs. Goud sticks
to this prescription, she prevails in reaching these particular students,” he
said. “She believes in children and treats each day as a new chance to succeed.
It is well known that if a child in her room needs to be retained, she prefers
to have them in her own room a second time to carry on where they left off.
This pattern further displays her willingness to keep after students who need
extra support.” 

 

Now with 51 years of teaching under her belt — she took a
few years off to have children —Goud knows that she can’t actually stay in the classroom
forever. But she will definitely try. For now, she’s relishing her time with
her students and the staff at Thomas D. Gregg, and being the oldest teacher
within IPS.

 

“It’s kind of a compliment,” she said. “I still love
teaching. It makes me feel like I’ve really accomplished something.”