SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Saratoga Springs High School will lose a beloved mentor in a few weeks when Richard Decker, chairman of the guidance department, retires after nearly four decades of teaching and counseling in the city school district. Decker
spent 42 years in education, 39 of them in the city school district.He
taught social studies for 21 years before working the same amount of time in guidance.
'It's given me the opportunity to see both sides of the fence,' he
said. 'I can't tell you that I'm burned out because I'm not.I love the job.I love the opportunity to work with young people.I love coming to work.I just felt that it was time,' he
said.Decker, who arrived in the district in 1965, also directs the continuing education program.
It provides academic and recreational programs to about 10,000 adults every year.
While mentalities are similar, Decker
said kids today are more knowledgeable than in the past.He
credits that to the proliferation of the Internet and media.
'They have a lot more knowledge at their fingertips and I think they do know more,' he
Counseling services have also changed, he
said, with more students identified with behavioral and eating disorders than were years ago.
has no regrets and tried to do the best that he
recalled buying a dress for a student who came from a broken home so she
could go to the prom.
'I treated everybody the same and tried to encourage them to be the best that they could be,' he
Decker looks forward to spending time with his
wife, Kathleen, their two sons, Kurt and Christopher, and their families.A self-professed early-riser, he
said he'll have more time to read, play cards and practice his
and Kathleen eventually plan to live part of the year in Florida.Decker, a native of Oswego, received his bachelor's from St. Lawrence University in Canton and his master's from SUNY Oswego.He is former president of the Saratoga County Fair and a member of its board of directors.
Parent Helen Edelman said her
two daughters, who are now in their twenties, make it a point to visit Decker
when they're in town. 'They still want him to be proud of them,' she
said. 'He's one of the real unsung heroes in Saratoga Springs.'