Fort Bliss Monitor
Retired librarian, teacher continues to serve
Virginia Reza, Monitor Staff
She taught for 30 years, yet even after retirement she continues to teach young children each Tuesday and Saturday at Mickelsen Library here.
Rita Sanich, a retired teacher and librarian, said she loves teaching children, especially when they are young because she said “they are like sponges – absorbing everything.”
“I believe children’s IQs can be built up,” Sanich said. “When children are surrounded by ignoramuses at home, who never pick up a book, they don’t grow up to be brilliant. Parents should not let their kids watch stupid shows on TV. Children need to be reading books instead. It’s so sad to see that families don’t talk at the dinner table anymore because they are glued to the television.”
Sanich was born and raised in Shanghai, China, after her parents escaped the Russian revolution. She grew up speaking Russian and Chinese and later attended a private British school for girls, where she learned English. During World War II, Sanich and her twin sister were sent to a convent in France, where she learned to speak French. After the communists took over China, her family was once again forced to flee – this time to America, where she later married her husband, a U.S. Air Force pilot at the age of 18.
She was not a house wife for too long before deciding to do something constructive with her life. She enrolled at Texas Western College, now known as the University of Texas at El Paso, where she acquired two master’s degrees – one in business administration and another in education with an emphasis in reading. She taught at various schools in El Paso and was a librarian for 15 years. While teaching here, she also picked up the Spanish language.
“You know, overseas everybody is multilingual,” said Sanich, “and once you know a language, it is easy to correlate it with another language. I love learning.”
Sanich said that even when she started her teaching career she would attend night classes at the university.
During her short class at Mickelsen, Sanich managed to not only tell several stories, but also to teach phonics, the alphabet, math, etiquette, science, writing and dancing. She does not believe in reading verbatim, because she said children’s attention spana are short and they tend to get bored easily. Instead, she uses felt puppets to tell stories, which she says helps maintain the children’s attention.
Nhi Buie, a parent who attended the storytelling with her 2-year-old son Parson, said she tries to take her children every Tuesday and Saturday.
“It’s like a mini preschool,” Buie said. “Rita teaches them to sit down, listen, color, and it’s great. I love it. She is really great.”
Sanich recommends parents let their children read to them and to not correct them when they make up words. She also said not to give children books that are too difficult for them because they can get discouraged.
“Kids want to learn,” Sanich said. “Buy them educational gifts for Christmas and make learning fun.”