Written by Betsy Abraham, email@example.com Friday, 07 June 2013 00:00
Bob Pfizenmayer, or Mr. Pfiz as he is affectionately called by students and fellow teachers, is retiring after 42 years of teaching in the Port Washington School District. He started teaching second grade at Guggenheim in 1971, then moved on to sixth grade at Flower Hill from 1972-79. He’s been teaching at Daly Elementary School since 1979, spending most of his time teaching fourth grade.
Both Pfizenmayer’s parents were remedial reading teachers and he says that that’s what drove him to go into the profession.
“Reading was always important in our house, so basically I wanted to teach kids how to read,” Pfizenmayer said. “Reading empowers people. Once it clicks, they become confident and it changes their life. They gain confidence in every subject, they feel good about themselves and they become socially more adept.”
Over his 42 years of teaching, Pfizenmayer has seen children of his students come through his classroom and has built up a countless number of memories. One that sticks out to him in particular is his informal mentor Stan Makover, who early on taught him the importance of creating a loving classroom environment.
“When I was a student teacher at Guggenheim, he showed me if you take the time to see the little flame inside everybody, you get them. When kids trust you, they’re willing to take risks and to get stuff wrong,” Pfizenmayer said. “It’s all about love and trust in the elementary school. They don’t care if they fail, you have to just let them be them. You have to learn to love the kids. Any success I’ve had in education has been because of that.”
Pfizenmayer says that his favorite part of being an elementary school teacher is the innocence, energy, faith and trust of the kids.
“I like to see kids grow and learn and that moment when it connects and they get it. When you create a loving and trusting environment, they love and trust you back. I’m going to miss that, the innocence and energy and purity of that faith and trust. There’s nothing like that,” Pfizenmayer says.
In addition to teaching, Pfizenmayer has coached soccer, wrestling and track on the middle and high school level, as well as mentored Intel scholars. A native Long Islander, Pfizenmayer graduated from Baldwin High School and married his high school sweetheart, a fellow elementary school teacher. He is looking forward to spending time volunteering at a children’s hospital and spending more time surfing in Hawaii and California.