Fangohr retires after 36 years

By Luna Stephens and David Obadare

When Pam Fangohr first started teaching at LHS, the main entrance faced Louisiana street and there were smoking areas for both teachers and students.

Now 31 years later, Fangohr will be retiring from her position as an educator and head of the math department.

Fangohr went back and forth on the decision to make this her last year, but decided that 36 years of teaching was a good number.

“There wasn’t anything that pushed me over the edge,” Fangohr said. “I had been toying with it [retiring], either this year or next year, I had been toying with it for quite some time… it’s just one of those decisions.”

To go from teaching hundreds of students on a daily basis for so long to not isn’t an easy shift.

“I’ll probably miss my colleagues to talk about math, and I’ll miss the students,” Fangohr said, “Because the students keep you going, you never know what they’re gonna do, their ideas and how they act. It’ll be weird.”

Despite Fangohr’s enthusiasm for teaching math, it wasn’t her original dream job.

“I really wanted to be a PE teacher and a coach,” Fangohr said, “but when I graduated from college I had a math degree and at the time they were searching for math teachers, so I jumped at the opportunity of being a math teacher just so I would have a job.”

Fangohr has stuck with math ever since. Her career as an educator began with her first teaching job at a junior high in Nebraska, but 5 years later she began searching for something in the Kansas City area.

“I wanted to be in the Kansas City area because I had graduated from Northwest Missouri,” Fangohr said. I had applied lots of different places, and then I got an interview at Lawrence High and the rest is history I guess.”

The first thing Fangohr noticed about her new students at LHS was their height compared to the junior high students she was used to teaching.

“When I got here I remember the students were so much taller,” Fangohr said. “So when I got here I was looking up to them like ‘Okay, how am I going to deal with this?’”

Lawrence students are what planted her here.

“I think it’s the kids” Fangohr said. “The interaction with the kids, they keep you young, they keep you on your toes, and I feel like I always learn something new whether it’s math related or not. I started my family here, I got married here, got involved in the community and I think that’s what kept me here.”

Fangohr’s seen a lot of changes around over the years.

“A lot of things have changed,” Fangohr said. “Where you even go into LHS has changed because the entrance on Louisiana used to be the main entrance, we used to have smoking areas inside the school, rooms have changed, policies have changed… there’s been a lot of physical changes”.

Despite changes in the building, students’ admiration for Fangohr has been a constant.

Fangohr’s teaching style has been described as direct and clear, with no frills.

“There’s no gimmicks that she’s trying to pull,” senior Noah Mercer said. “She kind of just teaches you exactly what you need to know”.

One thing that makes Fangohr’s teaching unique is her delivery, using unique mannerisms that have began to be known among her students as “Fangohrisms”

“One of her most well known phrases is jeezy josie jumpin jehosaphats,” junior Megan Wisbey said. “They sound really strange, but having spent time around her I notice myself using them sometimes”.

While Fangohr’s been at LHS for a substantial amount of time, not everyone is ready to see her go.

“I wasn’t surprised [she’s retiring]” Good said, “because she’s been talking about it all year but I know everyone is really disappointed because she is an awesome teacher.”

Some students wish she could have stayed just one more year.

“I’m sad to not have her next year,” Wisbey said. “Because I’ve already had her for 2 years, so I have a good connection with her”.

Fangohr said she’s enjoyed teaching so much it’s made all 36 years of it a breeze.

“It didn’t seem like it had happened so long until I figured out it was so long,” Fangohr said. “Getting to work with colleagues who enjoy the subject area that you like, but I would also say the students, every year you get new kids in…it just gave you a fresh start on everything, kids just keep you young.”