UMW News BureauAfter a 37-year career in education, Linda Reiten was honored at a reception in Montana Western's Lewis and Clark Room on Friday, Dec. 11. By Wally Feldt [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="176" caption="Professor Linda Reiten at Montana Western's 2009 graduation."][/caption] After nearly four decades of teaching, University of Montana Western special education professor Linda Reiten said goodbye to the classroom during a reception on Friday, Dec. 11 in the Lewis and Clark Room. Reiten retires after 10 years as a professor at Montana Western, but her teaching career spans 37 years. After graduating from the University of North Dakota in 1972, Reiten’s first job was teaching special education on the Navaho Reservation in New Mexico. She returned to her alma mater where she earned both her master’s and Ph.d. Reiten then taught at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. for 16 years before teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and then the University of Montana Western in 1999. She was the guiding force in the creation of the university’s special education degree program. Reiten offered tireless support to Montana Western students in the classroom and out. She is frequently seen tutoring students at a study table or frying burgers at a campus event. Her handy work on a sewing machine has been displayed in costumes for the Polynesian club dancers, vests for the rodeo team and numerous costumes for Montana Western drama productions. “I have always been very student-centered and not just with teaching,” Reiten said. “I like being part of a student’s life away from the classroom. At Montana Western my involvement with the rodeo team, the Polynesian club, the drama club and the football team has been outstanding. My relationships with the students involved and the coaches and players has been very special.” Travis Domser, defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs, works closely with Reiten and her involvement with Montana Western football. “First of all, the kids love her,” Domser said. “That’s the big thing. She comes in Tuesday nights on her own time and helps all of them with their studying. She yells at them and gets after them to do better. It’s good for them and it’s good for her. She is a huge part of our program and we are going to miss her.” During her time at Montana Western, Reiten also served as the university’s faculty athletic representative. Reiten takes a simple philosophy into her classroom, which she advises her students to take into their classrooms. “I have always enjoyed learning and try to make my students get that same enjoyment from learning,” Reiten added. “I want them to look at more than just ‘this is how you teach social studies or reading or special ed.’ I want them to look at the interesting part of things. I tell them to read a lot and keep their eyes and ears open. School doesn’t have to be drudgery, it can be fun.” Reiten’s classrooms are usually a test-free zone for her students. “I seldom give a paper-and-pencil test,” Reiten noted. “I think there are other ways to assess learning that are more valid than a test. I don’t think a test tells me anything for what they have learned or teaches them anything.” While Reiten doesn’t believe in tests, she does instill an ethic of good writing in her students. “I have my students do a lot of writing because I believe that good writers make good teachers,” Reiten said. “Good writers know grammar and can express themselves on paper and then can do the same thing in front of a classroom of kids as well. ” “Linda Reiten has been an exemplary faculty member at Montana Western,” Montana Western Provost Karl Ulrich said. “She has been an excellent teacher and mentor to her students; has donated much time and energy to student groups, most notably the rodeo and Polynesian clubs; has been a faithful fan of Montana Western’s athletic teams; and has been a valued friend and colleague to me and many others. I wish her the best in retirement. She has earned it.” After such a long and rewarding career, Reiten said she will miss the students and her colleagues the most. With retirement, Reiten will close one chapter of her life and begin another. She plans to spend the first three months of retirement in the warmth and sunshine of Arizona. In the spring, she will return to North Dakota where she plans to spoil her grandchildren, spend time at the family cabin and go to plenty of Minnesota Twins baseball games. Although officially retired from teaching, Reiten won’t be entirely removed from the world of education. She obtained a North Dakota substitute teaching license and has already committed to the fall on a limited basis. Reiten said she will be available to her alma mater and several other area schools to supervise student teachers. For a short ten years, Reiten has been a vital part of Montana Western. She has affected the entire campus and, to borrow a quote from Travis Domser, “She will be missed.”
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