BY CARLEY SORRENT
Mrs. Trish Swanson, the business computer science teacher at Wadsworth High School of 33 years, is retiring at the end of the 2021 school year.
Swanson has done many different things in the ever-changing business world. She had to adapt to the continuously developing machinery.
Overall, Swanson’s favorite part of teaching at Wadsworth High School was knowing the staff that taught her children.
“I enjoyed seeing my own two children grow up in this school district,” she said. “Since I knew so many of their teachers as colleagues, it was very comforting to know they were in such good hands.”
Throughout her 33 years of teaching, Swanson has spent it all at Wadsworth High School. She says that she has built a closer bond with the people she has worked with.
“I will most miss the friendships I have developed through the years,” Swanson said. “The relationships with teachers, administrators, other staff members and so many former students have been such a large part of my life for so many years. “
Over the years, Swanson has taught almost every subject in the Business Department curriculum.
“My first year I taught a vocational (career tech) program called Modern Office Education,” she said. “Even though it was training for the modern office, students learned typing–on typewriters–because we didn’t even have computers yet.”
Along with typing, students were taught accounting, business math, and office procedures like filing and office ethics in this class.
“I also taught a program called Co-operative Business Education (CBE) where students learned office skills in class, and then were dismissed early from school in the afternoons to work in office jobs,” Swanson said. “I left school each day to go out in the business community to meet with employers. I really enjoyed touring company offices and meeting people working in the business field.”
She was also available to be involved with Business Professionals of America, a career oriented program.
“Through that organization, I traveled all over with students to state and national competitions,” Swanson said. “That was always somewhat stressful but we learned a great deal, and also had a ton of fun.”
The curriculum changed once Wadsworth High School installed its first computer lab.
“I taught some of the first computer classes, which were based in MS-DOS–that was before Windows existed,” she said.
Being in the field of computers, Swanson had to learn to adapt to the advancements in technology. This meant constantly learning, as well as teaching.
“Because our area changes so rapidly, I have had to learn so many new software programs and have rarely taught the same course for very many years in a row,” she said. “Some examples of courses I have taught over the years include: computer applications such as Google Docs, Sheets, & Slides, Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Access, intro to business, business management, accounting, keyboarding, and even collegebound speedwriting, where students learned how to write really fast for college note taking, before everyone had laptops.”
Swanson was not only involved in her required curriculum, however. She also took charge in many activities.
“I have led a few student organizations through the years such as Academic Challenge, Student of the Month, SADD, and the Vocational Clubs,” she said. “I have also spent a great deal of time being involved in the professional organization-Wadsworth Education Association where I have held the office of treasurer for 30 years.”
Swanson believes in improving the educational experience through bettering the teaching system. She places a lot of importance on helping students even further than the classroom.
“I am very passionate about being a part of the negotiations team in the collective bargaining process and advocating for teachers’ rights and working conditions,” she said. “By working hard to improve the profession of teaching, I believe I can have an even greater impact on the lives of all students–instead of just the ones in my classroom.”
One of Swanson’s favorite things about working in Wadsworth is the community surrounding her. The staff is very tight knit, and she has made many friends along the way.
“I grew up in Stark County, so when I first started teaching here, I didn’t know very much about Wadsworth,” Swanson said. “I would tell someone I taught here, and they would remind me of how lucky I was to have landed a job here.”
Swanson quickly adapted to the new environment. She has come to love the community that Wadsworth provides.
“It didn’t take long for me to take immense pride in my position as a staff member of Wadsworth High School,” Swanson said. “I knew it was a beautiful community and took the opportunity to purchase a house here, and raise my own children as Grizzlies.”
In very little time, she began to see herself as a part of Wadsworth.
“I love the expression ‘That’s just so Wadsworth’: it speaks to the way people love being here,” she said. “They grow up here, remain here, and stay for good.”
Swanson truly believes that Wadsworth High School’s foundation changes the students’ lives.
“Being part of the school district is what makes that happen,” she said. “They love being Grizzlies. They embrace their community, take care of each other and don’t accept anything other than keeping Wadsworth special.”