Seattle Public Schools

SPS Longest-Serving Teacher Retires

Summary: Marletta Iwasyk, Seattle Public Schools longest-serving teacher, is retiring at the end of the 2023-24 school year.

Golden Girl: District’s longest-serving teacher is retiring  

The year was 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. had just been assassinated, Richard Nixon was elected president, and the top song was “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. It is also the first year Marletta Iwasyk set foot in a classroom. 

Iwasyk (pronounced ee-VAS-ick) is the longest-running teacher in Seattle Public Schools with nearly 56 years of continuous service under her belt. She has spent the last 49 years as a kindergarten teacher at Orca K-8, the school where she played a large role in helping to start.  

The school’s PTSA is hosting a retirement celebration for Iwasyk at Orca K-8 on June 6 at 5 p.m. for the school and surrounding community to attend.  

Tucked in a classroom overflowing with books, Iwasyk’s students hang on her every word. Reading is her favorite subject to teach, and it’s why she has stuck with teaching kindergarten for so long. 

“I know my system works, and I want to get them early. That’s the earliest I can get them,” Iwasyk said. I love to see them grow … I love reading, I love books; my goal is to make them want to appreciate them as much as I do.” 

Marletts Iwasyk teaches in her classroom.

Although Iwasyk’s voice is as soft as a feather, her presence is enough to keep students in line. She spends the latter part of the school year getting kids ready for first grade by gradually training them to be independent. Iwasyk said her students would describe her as “loving, fair, and firm.” 

“They know I mean what I say, and they respect that,” she said. “The structure gives them safety. When you know your boundaries and the rules, you really are free.” 

Iwasyk still remembers how nervous she was on her first day as a teacher. She found a third grader on the playground who was misbehaving and convinced him to help her.  

“He and I became really close, and he would stay after school and help me wash paintbrushes and clap erasers,” she said. “We became good friends.” 

Iwasyk has educated more than 1,500 students in her years in SPS. She is still in touch with many of the students – many who have gone on to become teachers. She has some words of advice for those who have joined the profession. 

“Love the kids and stay with it. Every day is a new day.”