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smile is spread across Rita Young’s face as she waves her finger at a list filled with scribbled names as she sits behind a table in her business classroom.
“That one, she is an alderman and an entrepreneur now,” she said, face glowing as she points to a name that reads Cheryl Swan. “I’ve had so many students who have gone on to do great things. Some have jobs, graduates of Harvard, entrepreneurs, one doctor and two in medical school, a lawyer … it’s very good to see.”
Rita, or Mrs. Young as she is well-known to her students that stretch far and wide across the country, is in her 43rd year in education. All 43 have been spent teaching business at Central High School. From the old high school in the 60s to the current one, she has been the one constant at the school.
“Yeah, I am the only person left from when I started,” she said, nodding and smiling, seeming to reflect on her past teaching days. “But several of the teachers here took my class. I count 25 in the county school system.”
But more are out there in other school systems, she said.
“It’s neat to see them come back and teach and succeed.”
Young has seen a lot, educated many, watched her students bring home awards and served as CTE director, buried her son far too young and, just last year, defeated breast cancer.
Now she can add Manchester Times Citizen of the Year to her resume.
“It’s really about the students,” she said, smiling, as she does most of the time and trying to deflect attention from her. “I love working with the kids. If I go out to eat at a restaurant with friends I see kids I’ve taught. We went to Florida once and ended up seeing people I knew and we even went to California to a UT game and some students from Manchester were at that game. I can’t go anywhere without seeing them and I like that.”
Through 43 years she has certainly made connections. Several of those connections have remained close to home.
“Susan Yother, who teaches here now, she was in my class,” explained Young, pointing towards Yother’s area of the school. “I taught [English teacher] Joyce McCullough, too.”
Through her tenure at CHS, Young has perhaps been known most for her contributions to the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), which has also been known under a few other names, most recently Business Professionals of America.
“We have 230 members this year.
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