An oldie but a goodie


Mary Dix having an energetic ‘walk about’ with her freshman civics class students

Courtney Bach

As the end of the year draws near, students say a goodbye to teachers and peers. Some won’t be back in the fall; however, even for those who return, saying goodbye to teachers that have influenced them can be hard. Students have to deal with the fact that next year they’ll have a new class, with a new teacher, and a new environment.
One of these influential teachers is Mary Dix.
To students such as freshman Elias Fritz, Dix seems like the kind of teacher that was made to be a teacher. Every day she greets her class with a smile and is sure to have work balanced with just enough fun to push her freshman civics class along. The day almost always includes a story, ranging from the groundhog she had to catch in her yard to the time she judged a male beauty pageant show and ended up eating a toe-made peanut butter sandwich. Then a moment that will later turn into a funny story, like when she doesn’t see the senior dressed as a bull skateboard through the classroom. Even beyond her wild stories though, lies a teacher that’s there for her students. She has a goal set as a teacher. One that cannot be measured by any educational standard.
“[I want] to help inspire my students to be kinder, more caring citizens of the world,” Dix said. “[I decided that] on day one. That matters more than anything. It matters that each one of you leave my class treating people with the respect they deserve.”
Through all of this, the most shocking news about Dix is that she hadn’t wanted to be a teacher. She said that she decided to be a teacher when her husband joined the military and she had to find a way to bring in money, and she hasn’t stopped after 35 years.
“I think that even though she didn’t intend to be a teacher, her purpose is definitely working with kids,” freshman student Allison Bell said. “She has empathy, which is really important for a high school teacher to have with teenagers who are going through a lot so she can talk to and understand her students.”
Former RBHS student, Kindra Brockmeier, says Dix remains one her favorite teachers to this day. “I remember Ms.Dix treated us like equals and made learning interesting and fun,” Brockmeier, who graduated in 2001, said. “She taught us in a way that got us to think and question things. She had an amazing sense of humor, too!”
Though it seems Dix’s students appreciate her lessons and methods, Dix still strives to be a better teacher.
“I have many days when I know I’m not good at teaching,” Dix said. “There are many days where I know my lesson wasn’t good. There are many days when I didn’t engage my kids. There are many years I know I let some kids fall through the cracks and I feel sick about that.”
She said the way to get past this sense of failure is to remind herself that there is tomorrow, and there are more days to come.  Important life lessons that all students will one day value are in Dix’s daily classes.
“Civics is one of the many things I learn in her class. Like, it’s not just history and government it’s how to get involved and why you should be passionate about what you believe in,” Fritz said. “It’s stuff that I can use in every subject and outside of school, which makes it a lot more fun of a class.”
Next year Dix will be moving on to teach AVID rather than civics, but there is no doubt that she will still have the same goals in mind. After all her stories and life lessons, students can agree on one thing: Dix’s class is the path to a good morning, and even though she may not be perfect, doesn’t mean she’s not a great teacher. And the relationships she builds with students can turn out to be unbreakable.
“I don’t think anyone’s perfect at their job, but Ms.Dix is as good as it gets,” Bell said. “She’s the reason I start my day with a good mood. Honestly, I wish she could be my grandma. Don’t forget to add that because I’m serious.”