By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

The summer of 2011 was a scary time for Jill Matiskainen.

She had been laid off from her position at Washington Elementary when right before school started she received a phone call from the Salem-Keizer school district.

They wanted to know if Matiskainen would like to teach at Gubser.

“I was one of the ones that was real lucky,” Matiskainen said. “I had worked here (Gubser) before, my kids went to school here and I live a block away.”

Matiskainen’s started at Gubser as a kindergarten instructional assistant in 1986.

After hearing from teachers that she should get her license, Matiskainen decided to go to school. She was in her 40s.

“I made my daughter take my very first class with me,” Matiskainen said. “She had just graduated from high school at McNary and we went to Chemeketa. I started with one class and by the end of the year I was doing five classes and working full-time and taking care of my three kids.”

Through the Career in Teaching program, Matiskainen earned her bachelor’s degree in management in organization and master’s in teaching.

“I’d never been to school before so it was scary,” Matiskainen said. “I did summer. I just wanted to get through, at night, weekends, everything. I did whatever I could to get through it.”

Matiskainen’s first teaching job was at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Salem. After seven years, she joined the faculty at Washington.

Returning to Gubser was easy.

“There were only like two teachers left from when I was here before but I knew the building so that was really comfortable,” Matiskainen said. “The staff here is fabulous and they just welcomed me.”

Matiskainen taught third grade.

“I love the growth that you see at the end of the year and I just love the kids,” Matiskainen said. “I like seeing them when they come in and they’re like babies and then we go through the whole year and they’re growing and ready for fourth grade. It’s just a really rewarding feeling that you get when you work with them.”

The 2017-18 class of Gubser third graders was Matiskainen’s last as she announced her retirement.

“That was horrible,” Matiskainen said of her final day. “I was crying all day. Mixed feelings, I’m glad to be retiring but yet I’m sad. I’ve done this for so long.”

While Matiskainen, whose hobbies include scrapbooking, sewing and gardening, doesn’t know exactly what’s next. She does know where she’ll be when school starts back in September—Hawaii.

“I’ve had a wonderful adventure and I worked hard to get to where I am today,” Matiskainen said. “It’s been a great ride.”