Teacher reuniting pupils School assembly: A Baltimore County elementary school teacher is throwing a party next month for her students from her 22-year career.

April 04, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Sandra P. Neuhauser is throwing a party for her children -- even though there are more than 1,000 of them.

A Baltimore County elementary school teacher for 22 years, Mrs. Neuhauser is inviting all of her former students to a shindig the night of May 5 at Martin's West. Her problem is finding them all, to arrange a "hall pass" ticket for each one attending the affair.

"I think it's important students know that teachers continue their interest in them even after they leave," said Mrs. Neuhauser, 53. "They're not actually my kids, but, for a period of time, I was fortunate enough to be able to share them with their parents."

The hall passes are free, and Mrs. Neuhauser declined to reveal how much she and her husband, Stanley, an attorney, are paying for the party. She has no idea how many of her students will get the word and respond.

But the chance to see how her students turned out will be worth it, she said.

"It costs a lot to be buried," Mrs. Neuhauser said, chuckling. "I spend my money on things that are important."

Plans for the party include videotapes of school activities, a display of costumes she wore to entertain the children, class photos and even students' schoolwork, Mrs. Neuhauser said.

The lunch lady with the hairnet might be missing, but partygoers will be able to slide their trays down a cafeteria rail as they dine on some of their school favorites -- hot dogs, pizza and little cartons of milk. (Soda will be served, too.)

Mrs. Neuhauser also has come up with an idea to help prevent that awkward moment of peering at a former classmate's face and name tag to figure out who's who -- name tags front and back.

An artistic woman with a ready laugh who paints, sculpts, writes and makes jewelry, Mrs. Neuhauser exudes the sense of fun and warmth that make teachers memorable.

B. Wayne Resnick, for one, readily remembers her. Mr. Resnick is president of Martin's Catering, which operates Martin's West, and was a student of Mrs. Neuhauser in 1963 -- her very first year as a teacher -- at Hebbville Elementary School near Liberty Road.

"She always dressed up at Halloween and got the students involved in creative ways," recalled Mr. Resnick, who counts Mrs. Neuhauser as one of his favorite teachers.

In 1966, Mrs. Neuhauser left teaching for a decade to raise her children, Mitchell, now 30, and Angela Beth Neuhauser, now 25. During those years, she taught an art class at her home.

In 1976, she returned to the classroom, and for the next 17 years she taught second- and sixth-graders at Winand Elementary in Randallstown. She moved to Halethorpe Elementary near Arbutus two years ago, adding the fourth grade to her resume.

That move was part of the reason for the party. Working in a different community, Mrs. Neuhauser said, she was no longer hearing stories of how her former students were doing.

"I was having a casual conversation with my husband about how I had stopped hearing what my former students were up to," Mrs. Neuhauser said. "That's when I hit on the idea of a party."

Including students she has had for homeroom, math, art and at a computer camp two years ago, Mrs. Neuhauser has a great deal of catching up to do. The reunion will have a mix of guests, ranging from former pupils now in their 30s to the fifth-graders who were in Mrs. Neuhauser's class last year.

"I consider any child, no matter who they are, whose class they are in or whose door they come to, to be a child I might help," she said. "Teaching is one of the few professions that helps children, in tandem with their parents, become the people they will be. There are very few times that you get a chance to be a role model."

Former students seem to be everywhere. Once, the rug cleaner who has done work in the Neuhauser home for years brought along a helper whom Mrs. Neuhauser had taught.

After she was on WBAL-AM radio last week to publicize her party invitation, the morning show's associate producer surprised everyone when he said, "Hey! I had Mrs. Neuhauser for a teacher."

Mrs. Neuhauser said that while she doesn't expect to be able to find all of her students, she has received almost 100 calls so far -- some of them confirming attendance for themselves as well as for friends who also were her students. Some leave their home phone numbers on her answering machine, hoping for a chance to chat.

Many of the former students recall events and moments that Mrs. Neuhauser said she has long forgotten. At least one caller also suffered from a bit of school daze.

"One person called and left a message saying, 'I went to Hebbville and my sister went to Hebbville and I don't remember you or your name but maybe you got married,' " Mrs. Neuhauser said, smiling. "That person requested I call back and tell them if they qualified for the party."

For the record, she was married before she started teaching. So to all of her students, she was -- and will always be -- Mrs. Neuhauser.

Former students can RSVP by calling 521-3323.

Pub Date: 4/04/96

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