The Johnny Green

The student news site of Weedsport

The Johnny Green

The student news site of Weedsport

The Johnny Green

The student news site of Weedsport

Mrs. Ouderkirk Leaves an Unforgettable Legacy at Weedsport


“I got a call to come and teach here, and I’ve been here ever since,” said current Pre-K teacher Mrs. Barb Ouderkirk. 

Ouderkirk has been a teacher at Weedsport for over 33 years and has impacted students, families, and her colleagues at Weedsport greatly. She is retiring at the end of this school year.

Nolan Carner, a current senior at Weedsport said, “Mrs. Ouderkirk has produced every one of the high school musicals that I’ve been in. She leads patron funding, assists with costumes, and would stay backstage at rehearsals and shows to help with quick changes, props, or anything else that needs to be done. If there was something that had to get done…this year was a bittersweet year for me because although it was my final show and one of my favorites, it was also her last show as producer. She’s had such a large impact on me from kindergarten to theater.”

Ouderkirk has impacted Weedsport greatly. She has taught many things in her time at Weedsport including kindergarten, second grade, third grade, reading AIS, and even started the preschool program at Weedsport and has helped in many school musicals.

Ouderkirk went to college at SUNY Cortland to study elementary education. She then started her student teaching at Weedsport, and finished student teaching at Casey Park Elementary School in Auburn. For a short time, Ouderkirk taught as a preschool teacher in Syracuse. She then got a call one day saying that she was officially able to teach at Weedsport. This call not only changed Ouderkirk for the better, but also changed Weedsport for the better. 

Weedsport has impacted Ouderkirk because she loves the small, close-knit community. Ouderkirk said, “I think the saying it takes a village to raise a child is a very real thing at Weedsport.” Ouderkirk stated that she is very grateful that she is not only able to teach in the Weedsport community, but she is also able to live in Weedsport’s great community too. 

Ouderkirk loves teaching the most because of the kids. Although it is not always rainbows and sunshine when it comes to teaching Pre-K, Ouderkirk gets to see these kids grow and mature as she teaches them, which is something she greatly appreciates. Another thing Ouderkirk loves about Weedsport is her colleagues. Because the Weedsport faculty is so “nurturing and caring” as Ouderkirk explained it, she has made life-long friends that she will miss next year. On top of that, she will also dearly miss all the students along with their families who have been so helpful and caring along the way. 

Mrs. Weston, a current Weedsport teacher, went to high school with Ouderkirk at Jordan Elbridge. They have many funny stories from the past, such as doing marching band together, playing softball, going to prom, and jamming to Pat Benatar music in the back of their friend Amy’s Mustang convertible. Now both these teachers have reconnected and work together at the same school. Weston has known Ouderkirk for many years and even sent her son to Weedsport for a year so he would have Ouderkirk as his Kindergarten teacher. “She’s just one of those people where you say, I want that person to be my kids’ teacher,” said Weston.

Weston said if she had one word to describe Ouderkirk it would be: caring. “She was always that way in high school, she’s a really good listener, she cares for students, she cares for her parents, she cares as a friend, she cares as a mom, and as a colleague.”

When Weston got to see how Ouderkirk was as a teacher she described her as a “happy teacher.” Weston explained that not only was Ouderkirk always happy, but Weston’s son was actually happy and excited to go to school every morning. Weston said that when it was time for her son’s Kindergarten graduation, all the kids would run up to Ouderkirk and give her the biggest hugs. From this perspective Weston saw that the kids would flock to Ouderkirk, the kids had such a deep trust and love for her because she took care of them in such a kind and impactful way. 

When asking Ouderkirk why she decided to retire she said, “I want to go and see all the big things that I have not been able to see.” Since Ouderkirk is still young and active, she wanted to explore and find other interests in her life. Ouderkirk is very interested in traveling, which is something she’s always loved. She and her husband have a house on the St. Lawrence River where they are planning on spending most of their time. Ouderkirk also mentioned the option of leaving New York during the cold and brutal winter so she and her husband don’t have to deal with the snow. Following this summer, Ouderkirk and her husband are planning to go on a cross-country trip. They plan on renting an RV and traveling all across the country wherever they please. After this happens Ouderkirk said she needs to wait and “see what else the future holds.”

Ouderkirk loves her teaching job so much that she has recommended it to her daughters and now they are both heading into the teaching field. Maddie Ouderkirk currently substitutes and coaches modified field hockey and modified softball at Weedsport. While Aubrey Ouderkirk is currently at SUNY Geneseo getting an adolescent education major with a concentration in English. Ouderkirk said she would confidently recommend a teaching career to everyone.

Ouderkirk cannot stress enough the importance of teachers in everyone’s lives. “I think it’s really really important that we have really strong women and men role models for the future of our nation,” said Ouderkirk. It worries Ouderkirk when she thinks about what outside people see an education degree as. Most see it as a job where you don’t get paid enough but that shouldn’t matter because the job is so crucially important. Ouderkirk expressed her concerns about what the world would look like if there were no good teachers. Overall she agrees teaching is a great career and there needs to be good people doing it. 

Mr. Cowin, the principal at Weedsport Elementary for over 14 years, has worked alongside Mrs. Ouderkirk for some years now. When asking him about Ouderkirk and her career he said, “There’s certainly generations of kids that have been fortunate to have her as a classroom teacher. She’s certainly caring, she certainly is an excellent teacher, and she works very hard with the kids she’s tasked with every year.” Cowin said that by just observing her for even a short period of time, that anyone would be able to see that she is respected by kids, the parents, and all her peers.

Overall Ouderkirk will be very missed at Weedsport, she has done amazing things for not only the Weedsport school but also Weedport’s students, families, and the community. Thank you for leaving a mark on this very important part of numerous students’ lives. 


More to Discover
About the Contributor
Olivia Quinn
Olivia Quinn is a senior at Weedsport. This is her second year of journalism. Olivia loves writing and learning about new things, and she wants to share these new things with the people at Weedsport. Journalism is her favorite class and she looks forward to writing for The Johnny Green