Phyllis Tartar is laying down her pen and putting away her dictionary and thesaurus after 41 years in education. The Bridge City school district will honor her with a reception at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 30, in the school board meeting room.

Tartar has spent her entire teaching career at Bridge City, including her student teaching. "I never applied anywhere else," said Tartar. She received teaching offers from other schools, but her mind was set on Bridge City. Her reason for choosing BCISD was unique years ago.

"They were the only school that had air conditioning," she said.

She thought back to the days when she was in school and nobody had air conditioning. Classrooms were equipped with oscillating fans as the only way to cool the students and teachers.

"I remember it being so hot that I would count the seconds it took the fan to get back to me," she said. She didn’t want to lose the students’ attention by them counting the seconds.

Teaching was destined to become her career.

"I was born to teach, I love it," she said. "I could just shut my door, and teach to my heart’s content."  She said it didn’t matter what was going on in the rest of the world, she could just shut it out and teach.

After a semester of student teaching at Bridge City in the spring of 1967, Tartar joined the regular teaching staff at the start of the 1967-68 school year. 

That first year, she did not have a class room, "I had a cart," she said. Her cart had all of her books and supplies and she would push it to a different room each period. The location of her classes at any given time was determined by which teacher was on a conference period.

After the first year, Bridge City built a new school. She received her own classroom in the north wing. Room 28 was Tartar’s home away from home for 30 years. She stayed in the same room, teaching high school English until 10 years ago, when she accepted the newly-created position of Curriculum Director. As director, she did everything from choosing new textbooks, to writing curricula, writing grant applications, and helping prepare for TAKS tests. Anything that has to do with curriculum fell under her job description.

She didn’t intended to be in education for 41 years. When she first began, Tartar thought she would teach for about 10 years and then do something else. But, once she got in the classroom that changed. She was hooked.

Tartar has been married to her high school sweetheart almost as long as she has been teaching. She graduated from Stark High in Orange, but the love of her life, Bobby, was from Bridge City. He owns T&T Fence Co.

They have one daughter, Alison, who is a park ranger in Travis County and lives in Austin.

Tartar had always said that she was going to retire when she had grandchildren, but has decided to retire anyway since grandchildren are nowhere in sight for the near future.

Her plans for retirement are to "hibernate for the entire month of February. I don’t care what the groundhog says, I’m hibernating." After that, she plans on taking some "me" time.

She would also like to travel and she recently returned from a trip to Denver.
After Bobby retires, they my consider moving closer to their daughter.

Tartar has taught thousands of students through the years. She has taught the children of former students and if she had been in the classroom the past 10 years, she possibly would have taught some of the grandchildren of her first students. "I really didn’t want to see that," she said jokingly.

She said, “I would really love it if all my former students would come," to the reception that will be held on Jan.30.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.