TREVORTON — Each Wednesday morning for nearly three decades a group of current and former educators have met at Hannah’s Restaurant in Trevorton to carry on friendships forged within the walls of Line Mountain Elementary School.
The group, typically of seven or more, occupy a large, round table in the front corner of the restaurant. This Wednesday’s attendees included Sue Carl, a retired special education teacher, Jean Bethge, who retired as Carl’s aide, Barb Marshall, a retired third grade teacher, Judy Dunkelberger, a retired first grade teacher, Jean Adams, a retired second grade teacher, Peggy Haverovich and Linda Gutkowski, both retired reading teachers.
Current teachers at Line Mountain Elementary School are welcome to come to breakfast, which begins when Hannah’s opens at 7 a.m. Haverovich, a more recent addition to the group, said before she retired she would leave at 8 a.m. to be on time for class at the school, which is just six blocks east.
Bethge, a member who has been attending since the group’s formation, said teachers at the elementary school began meeting informally to go shopping together in the 1970s. In the early 1990s, she and some other staff were moved to another building, she recalled, prompting them to make the meetups more organized.
“We missed the people we worked with,” she said, adding that they decided to do breakfast at Hannah’s once per month.
Marshall said as teachers retire, they join the ever-increasing group. The majority are women, but occasionally male educators will attend. Members are welcome to stroll in anytime during the meetups, which last between one to two hours.
At any given time several conversations will be taking place, with the ladies jumping in and out as they hear topics that interest them. There’s no political goal or designated subjects for the morning’s conversations. Group members said popular topics include health, politics and grandchildren.
“We’re just there for each other,” said Gutkowski. “It’s a very non-judgmental group.”
“Everybody has everybody else’s back,” added Bethge.
Gutkowski said after she transferred from Line Mountain to Montgomery Area School District, she was not only welcomed to continue breakfasting with the group, they decided to go on a road trip and visit her at her new school. Gutkowski was thrilled because the breakfasts had become an essential part of her life.
“When you miss a week, you really feel like you missed out,” said Gutkowski.
Taking care of each other is a primary principle for the ladies. When original group member Heather Slotterback fell ill, the ladies traveled together to visit her just two days before she died. They still remember her and talk about her frequently.
Carl recalled the support of the fellow educators when she had a hip replacement, and Bethge said they were there for her when she had cancer. The latter was especially grateful for the help provided to her by these friends during her divorce.
“I don’t know where I’d be if you hadn’t been here,” she told them Wednesday morning.
She said a forte of the group’s members is being there without being intrusive. Gutkowski said they value confidentiality and make sure to have each other’s backs.
“You’re kind of there for everyone’s stage in life,” said Carl.
“The good and the bad,” Gutkowski added without skipping a beat.
A favorite subject among the former educators is the success stories of their former students. They’re able to easily keep tabs on Jason Wolfe, the owner of Hannah’s Restaurant and a former student of all the ladies who attended Wednesday.
Wolfe’s mother, Elaine, who they affectionately call by the nickname “Honey,” serves as an honorary member of the group. She’ll often bring the ladies treats, like cupcakes or fudge.
Though Hannah’s is their typical meeting place, the educators often arrange “field trips” to a variety of places like the Lycoming Mall, antique shops, Shady Maple Smorgasbord or Knoebels Amusement Resort. They also host a Christmas party at Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, which draws more than 20 former educators each year.
“We always close Country Cupboard down when we go,” said Marshall.
For Marshall, the group helped her make the transition from a full-time educator to retirement.
“One thing I thought I might miss is my friends. But I didn’t have a chance because we’ve been meeting,” she said.