February 26, 2020

A Passion for Teaching Children

Margie Monroe; Photo courtesy of Margie Monroe

Margie Monroe, 80

When Margie Monroe learned she had been nominated and then selected for the Journal’s seniors issue, she called her friend and asked her to go on a tricycle ride. Yes, Monroe rides a tricycle. She received it at her Shabbat retirement party after spending 24 years teaching at Ilan Ramon Day School in Agoura Hills. The school principal rode out on the tricycle and gave it to her. “I probably was crying, I was so touched,” she said. 

Monroe began her career as an early childhood teacher at Heschel Northridge before transferring to what was then Heschel West, now Ilan Ramon. These days, she occasionally acts as a substitute teacher at a Chabad preschool.  

Monroe’s passion for teaching kindergarten comes from her love for beginnings. “I love starting [out] young children,” she said. “It’s like the beginning of the process and I’m a very process-oriented person.” 

She added she’s been persuasive in convincing parents that their child should “be in class a second time” if she feels they are not ready to move up, for fear that they may slip through the cracks later in life. “I never say the word ‘again,’ ” she said, “because it’s not again. It’s not going to be the same. It’s about being in the process a second time.” 

Monroe met and married her second husband, Bob, when she was 53. She said when she first met him, she liked the way he walked. “He walked like a person who felt good about being Bob,” she said. 

“I love starting [out] young children. It’s like the beginning of the process and I’m a very process-oriented person.”

The couple love camping and hiking, and Monroe said she makes sure to include some sort of exercise in her day, even if it’s something as simple as walking. 

She eats the same thing for breakfast every morning — oatmeal with raisins and a dish of strawberries and blueberries. “Now comes the fun,” she said. At 2 p.m. every day, she drinks a mocha latte for the caffeine (at one point it was orange soda, then Coca-Cola and then chocolate milk). 

In the summer, she goes swimming and rides her tricycle on most days. “The newest thing is, we bought a ukulele,” she said. Now she attends regular jam sessions, dances and activities at Leisure Village, the senior community where she and Bob live. “When people retire, often they’re lost because they don’t have a job and [wonder], ‘Who am I without being the doctor or the nurse or the teacher?’ ” she said, explaining these are people who had something that they felt good about but sometimes didn’t develop more of themselves.

After years of teaching young children, Monroe said she loves seeing children play and wrote a poem called “A loving thought.” The last stanza reads: “We marvel at the world. / that they alone can see. / May each as they grow / say, “I’m glad to be me.”