Editor's note: Five veteran Aurora schools' staffers are retiring. This is the first in a series of stories about them.

Aurora -- As a teenager, Ted Linden reached a fork in the road. He was either going to study photo journalism or math/education.

"I'm not sure what caused me to pick math/education, but I got into a math course at Kent State," he said, and his career began to take shape. Linden taught for 35 years -- the last 34 years in Aurora, and 29 of those teaching fifth grade.

He taught for 21 years at Harmon School and has been an instructor at Leighton School since it opened in 2001, teaching math and social studies.

Linden is one of the Aurora teachers who retired at the end of this school year.

"I enjoyed working with students and seeing them as they began to understand things," he said. "Teaching isn't just getting up and talking. It's about how you get the information across to the children."

Linden said he enjoyed the learning environment and "having fun with the students."

"That's what teaching is all about," he said. "It's about having teacher-student relationships. It's about seeing that they understand what you're teaching."

In his first year, he taught at Homer Union Elementary School in southeast Ohio. The school was so small there were only 11 students in the entire eighth-grade class.

However, Linden, who grew up in Berea, wanted to return to Northeast Ohio. "I was fortunate to come to Aurora," he said.t Harmon, he was a team teacher along with Julie Long for 16 years for about 50 students. "We taught everything," he said. "That was fantastic. When you're a team teacher, you have someone else to bounce ideas off."

One of Linden's favorite annual tasks was overseeing what was known as the grandparent project, where students picked one of their grandparents to interview with a tape recorder, asking them about 75 questions about their lives, listened to the tapes, then wrote a six-chapter book about the grandparents.

The books, with photos, were eventually presented to the grandparents at school.

"We had grandparents come here from Florida, California and Japan," he said. "It was a great thing. It brought the children and grandparents together. A number of times, I heard from a parent that said they had never heard the stories the grandparent told to the child. It was amazing.

"It's not the tests that kids remember, it's the projects and activities,."

Linden took part in student bike and bowling clubs, and he has taught math at Kent State University and Hiram College since 1990.

Linden's wife, Kelly, is a long-term substitute teacher at Highland Elementary School in Stow. They have three grown children -- Tim, Andy and Caroline.

He believes he was lucky to work in the Aurora school district.

"We had a fantastic group of teachers who were working to get the best out of the students," he said. "To be able to teach in the Aurora community and with this school administration, this is a great spot to teach. People care about education. They make sure we have the resources we need so we can teach.

"There is so much support here. I could not have asked for a better place to teach. I'm going to miss it."

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

Facebook: facebook.com/mike.lesko.378

Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC