Sandy Conlon says goodbye to Steamboat Springs High School |

Sandy Conlon says goodbye to Steamboat Springs High School

Teresa Ristow

Steamboat Springs High School teacher Sandy Conlon retires this year after 56 years in the classroom, 46 of them with the Steamboat Springs School District.

— Though teachers are often known for their dedication to the profession, not many head into retirement having educated three generations of families or having spent more than four decades in the same school district.

But Sandy Conlon isn't like many teachers.

The veteran Steamboat Springs High School world history and literature teacher retires this year after 56 years as a teacher, 46 of them with the Steamboat Springs School District.

What will she miss the most as she heads into retirement?

"Interacting with the students, that's the biggest thing I'm going to miss," Conlon said. "I like challenging them to be their best selves, to think about world events and what impact they might have in the future."

Conlon's service to the students of Steamboat Springs will be recognized during a party from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

Conlon described herself as a tough teacher who expects a lot and likes to push her students.

"I probably have a reputation of being strict, but I'm really a nice person," said Conlon, who now teaches mostly 11th- and 12th-grade students. "I think I expect a lot from students. I expect them to do high-quality work and try to push them to do that."

Fellow SSHS teacher Cindy Gay said that, while Conlon has a reputation as a stricter teacher, it's something students thank her for later.

"All kids say that she is the teacher that best prepared them for college," Gay said. "They say hers was a class that really pushed them. Students sort of fear the challenge (of her classes) and love the challenge."

Gay added that Conlon cares for students and is always finding ways to help them.

"I don't think there's anyone with a bigger heart than Sandy," said Gay, who noted Conlon's generosity has included giving thousands of dollars in anonymous scholarships to students trying to go on trips or afford other things.

"She is a legend," said Gay, who has taught in the district for 18 years and is also one of several long-tenured retirees this year.

Gay said Conlon always continued to learn and progress as a teacher, and she always had a book she was reading.

Through the years, Conlon has earned several awards and endowments to travel abroad to places including Ghana, China and Morocco and learn more about world cultures to incorporate into her classes.

Following her retirement, Conlon plans to remain in Steamboat and continue to travel. She also plans to spend time with her family in Utah, which includes four grandchildren.

Conlon said it was difficult to pick out a favorite moment from her 56 years of teaching.

"All the moments have been good ones — it's hard to single out any one particular thing," she said.

She has enjoyed the opportunity to teach siblings, children and even grandchildren of former students and said she likes experiencing the different personalities of family members.

"At least three generations have come through, and I think that's one of the great things about living in a relatively small town," Conlon said. "That's been a great pleasure in teaching here."

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow