Reflections on teaching 22 years

Eric Wiest, ConVal High School’s longtime photography teacher will retire following the end of the school year.

Wiest, a Sunapee resident, has been teaching photo tech at ConVal for 22 years.

“I came here in 1992. When I started I was teaching metal shop, machine, small engines and graphic design, too,” Wiest said during an interview on Wednesday.

As his photo tech class grew in popularity, Wiest opted to focus on teaching his most popular class and petitioned for more classroom space to do so. “After my third year at ConVal, all I taught was photo tech,” said Wiest.

In Wiest’s photo tech course, students learn basic photo composition skills, how to make and edit photos and videos, and how to develop photos in a darkroom.

Three years ago, the school asked Wiest to incorporate a video component into his course. “The class is now called digital media arts,” said Wiest.

Wiest took just one semester of photography in college, but his father, Don, had worked for Kodak when he was growing up.

“I’ve been in a darkroom since I was a young kid,” said Wiest, who will miss the students he has taught during his time at ConVal. “I enjoy hearing about success stories of my former students. I love running into former students in public, and seeing students growing up and maturing.”

Wiest, who will turn 54 soon, planned to retire when he was 55, but thanks to his mortgage being paid off and his daughter transferring to a different college, he has the opportunity to retire early. “My daughter transferred to Colby Sawyer, which is where my wife works as a teacher in the early child development program, so my daughter doesn’t have to pay tuition,” he said.

Wiest plans to keep busy in a variety of ways once his teaching days are over. “I’ve been doing a handyman business for a while now. I’ll be doing that in the warm weather, and in the winter I’ll be a snowboard instructor at Mount Sunapee,” said Wiest, who is excited to have the opportunity to work on his own schedule. “I can work as much or as little as I want,” he said.

For the last 22 years, Wiest, who originally got into teaching with the hopes of giving kids something to look forward to when they got up for school, has been driving 86 miles daily to teach at ConVal. “I hate the alarm clock. I’m going to smash it in the driveway,” smiled Wiest, who usually wakes up at 5 a.m. to make the commute.

“I went to a private school in Rochester, N.Y., where we did nothing but sit and listen to teachers talk all day. I hated talking in the classes I taught. My favorite saying [to my students] was ‘get to work.’”

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