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Ready for the Next Adventure: Major Retires, Pursues New Classroom


Cherie Major

Cherie Major is looking ahead to retirement, but she’s not quite ready to give up teaching.

“I don’t think I’ll ever really stop being a teacher,” says Major. “It’s my passion; it’s what I do.”

The College of Education curriculum and instruction professor has officially retired from the University of Idaho, but a new venture with her husband in Utah will keep her busy teaching elementary, middle school, high school, and college students and teachers sustainability while using both her skills and her husband’s.

Arriving on the Moscow campus in 1998 from the University of Southern Maine to chair the curriculum and instruction department, she and the faculty restructured the University of Idaho’s teacher education program to align with national teaching trends. This included early and continuous practicum experiences in schools culminating in a year-long internship. The goal, Major says, is for students to have practical experience working with students in partner schools.

Though she enjoyed bringing new models to the University of Idaho, she missed working with students. She transferred into a teaching position in Coeur d’Alene in 2001. 

“We’ve increased faculty, programs and students.  The Coeur d’Alene Center has really grown,” says Major. “I’ve learned so much up here; it’s been a wonderful experience.”

During her tenure in Coeur d’Alene, she helped developed partnerships with area schools. The first official partner school is Seltice Elementary School in Post Falls.

“They gave us a classroom, and we were able to work with elementary students; it was an amazing teaching tool,” says Major.

In the partnership, significant service-learning opportunities abound from teaching lessons, tutoring and enrichment after school programs.  For Major, her favorite  project was building an Idaho Outdoor History Museum, which involved a 10’x10’ pioneer home, an authentic Coeur d’Alene tepee, Oregon  trail wagons, a general store, mining station and other structures with elementary school children and University students as an early Idaho history teaching tool.

“It was a great unit to develop. All the students enjoyed the lesson and Seltice students were so excited to learn the information as well as building skills,” says Major.

“The important thing, to me, was getting University of Idaho students working with school children while helping the community,” says Major.

As an academic, Major‘s area of specialization was middle school.  She was the northwest director of Tuning Points, a reform model for middle schools. This involved helping schools write federal grants and then working with the school for a three- to five-year period of time raising academics and creating a positive climate to deal with the social and emotional issues of adolescents.

She also was the adviser to the North Idaho College/University of Idaho Education Club, where she worked with students and wrote grants to provide different programs in the community.  The club adopted Children’s Village, a shelter for homeless children, providing literacy programs, homework help and sponsoring food and toy drives. The club also sponsors a Future Teachers Club for the Lakeside Middle and High School in Plummer.

Working with students from North Idaho College, Major also was able to help mentor students transfering to a four-year university. Sara Pence, the current president of the education club, won the Idaho Education Association Teacher in Training award for 2011.  Providing leadership opportunities for students was very important to Major.

With one chapter closing upon her retirement, she and her husband, an environmental engineer, are heading to Utah to build a completely sustainable RV and campground, where they will run environmental schools and labs that can be applied to homes. They currently are looking for the right piece of land to pass on a green legacy to a new generation.

“I’m really excited to develop this and see what comes next,” says Major.