In the old days, men were expected to follow in their fathers’ footsteps when it came to careers.
Sometimes, the same thing can happen with women.
Mallory White, a teacher at Treynor Middle School, followed in the footsteps of her mother, Lisa Chambers, and grandmother, Barb Kallesen.
Kallesen started out as an elementary teacher in Treynor after completing two years of teacher education at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri — which was all that was required at that time.
“I started when I was 19,” she said. “I taught sixth grade — and I loved it. Really and truly, all 42 years (in education) were very special.”
Though Kallesen’s mother wasn’t a teacher (her father taught for two years and then went into farming), her mother did give her some good advice about talking to parents during parent-teacher conferences: “Make sure you tell them something good.”
Kallesen continued teaching in Treynor for 20 years but also continued her education, taking summer classes and earning a master’s degree at Drake University. She became an elementary principal in Malvern, then in Wilton. She and her husband moved to Arkansas after their retirement, but she lost her husband in 2003 and moved back to Treynor in 2005. One of the rewards of teaching was seeing former students who said she made a difference in their lives. Now, she enjoys bumping into Chambers’ former students and hearing about how much she helped them.
Chambers almost broke the chain by studying business and becoming an accountant.
“I wasn’t going to be a teacher,” she said. “That’s what my mom did.”
However, after two years, Chambers decided business wasn’t for her. She stayed home with her children for two years while her husband farmed, then decided it was time to make a new start.
“I wanted to do something, so I went back to school,” she said. “I finally listened to my mom. She said, ‘why don’t you consider education? You love children.’”
Chambers started an education degree at Northwest Missouri State, and got her degree from Buena Vista College through its Iowa Western Community College branch. She taught at Treynor Junior High for 11 years, then at Wilson Junior High/Middle School for 21 years, most recently as an instructional coach. She has lived in Treynor since third grade, except during college.
“I enjoyed middle school,” she said. “I’ve taught sixth through ninth, and I really like it.”
Chambers retired in June but has since volunteered in granddaughter Miranda’s kindergarten class.
“It’s all about the kids,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re in kindergarten or middle school – when they figure something out, you can just see that light pop on.”
White, her daughter, felt it was only natural to follow her mother’s example.
“I can remember in second grade when they asked what you want to be, and I wanted to be a teacher,” White said. “I always wanted to teacher upper elementary.”
“Mallory helped a lot – the girls came up and helped a lot getting my room ready and those things,” Chambers said.
White started her education degree at Wayne State College in Nebraska, finished an associate degree at Iowa Western and earned her degree from Buena Vista at Iowa Western.
White started out by teaching sixth grade in Glenwood for seven years, although she and her husband continued to live near Treynor — as she has all her life, except during college. This is her second year teaching at Treynor Middle School, where she has students in sixth through eighth grades.
Though two of them are now retired, education usually comes up when they are together, Chambers said.
“There’s always education conversations at holidays,” she said.
Chambers remembers being in the awkward position of being one of her mother’s students.
“The only time I got sent to the principal’s office was when my mom did it,” she said. “She did it because she didn’t want to appear to be showing favoritism.”
Chambers taught her two sons but went to work in Council Bluffs the year she would have had White.
White’s daughter, Miranda, 5, is in kindergarten this year. Her younger daughter, Kendall, is 1 year old.