Sigg reflects on storied career

Daryl Sigg is retiring after 34 years with USD 257. She first taught fourth grade at Gas Elementary, then fourth grade at Jefferson before becoming a librarian. She recalls the impact of the Young Authors Program on her career.


Local News

May 22, 2024 - 2:41 PM

Daryl Sigg, with her puppet Blizzard, is retiring after 34 years teaching with USD 257. She served as Iola Elementary School librarian since 2017. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Now that school is out for the summer, the library at Iola Elementary School was eerily quiet Wednesday morning when a young boy popped in.

He was there to see about a dog. 

Not just any dog. But Blizzard, a 29-year mainstay of Daryl Sigg’s teaching career.

Sigg waved the boy, Tyson Koehn, to come over. Tyson’s mom is the school’s assistant principal and they were at IES while she wrapped things up. 

Tyson, age 7, smiled when he saw Blizzard. “It’s a puppet,” he explained.

Blizzard whispered in Sigg’s ear. She pretended to look surprised. “No, you can’t chew on his ear.” She offered Tyson an apology. “He’s excited. He hasn’t seen kids in at least a week.”

Sigg has relied on Blizzard to help her connect with students for most of the 34 years she served as a teacher and librarian. Now that she’s retired, she’s taking Blizzard home. 

While Sigg reflected on a long and, pardon the pun, storied career, she held on tight to Blizzard.

Hers is a tale about finding a place to call home, connecting with young children, meeting authors and illustrators, and inspiring a lifelong love of books and reading.

Daryl Sigg helps Tyson Koehn, age 7, put a hat on her puppet dog, Blizzard. Sigg is wearing a shirt that reads “Librarians don’t retire; they get renewed.” Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

SIGG GREW up “an Air Force kid.” Her father had relatives in the Iola area but their immediate family moved to a new base every year. Sigg, an introvert, said, “I don’t feel like I put any roots down in school. I can’t tell you the names of any of my teachers” until they moved to Iola in 1967, when her father left to serve in Vietnam. Sigg was in seventh grade. 

In high school, art teacher Cecilia Orcutt took extra time with Sigg. “She was the first person I really trusted as a teacher.”

Sigg decided to become a teacher and graduated from Pittsburg State University. At that time, there was no shortage of teachers. She felt lucky to be offered a job by John Wilson, head teacher at Gas. She would spend four years teaching fourth grade at the former Gas Elementary School.

“Even back then, the most important thing was getting to know my students. Their likes, dislikes. I wanted to take time to listen to them and make them feel valued,” she said.

“I decided when I went into education, I would make sure I touched base with every child every day. When you’re first out of college you think you’re going to save the world. The first year I taught, I had 28 students and my goal plummeted very quickly. I realized I had to do it on a rotation but I was going to let every child know what they were capable of achieving.”

Sigg especially enjoyed teaching math, so she left Gas when a Title I math teaching position came open at Jefferson. 

“Math was my forte. I had the best year even though I was working with students who struggled in math.”

But math was fun, she said. She incorporated music into lessons. She still remembers a song: “Digital root, digital root. The sum of the digits is the digital root.”

Example: Sigg has taught for 34 years. The sum of 3 and 4 is 7. That’s the digital root. And 7 is a lucky number, Sigg said.

December 1, 2023
October 11, 2023
September 7, 2018
April 25, 2017