Sisson teacher hangs up ties after 39 years

Skye Kinkade and Siena Maniatis
Yreka's Eric Fleischman, who has taught for nearly 40 years – 29 of them at Sisson School in Mount Shasta – retired on June 6.

Yreka’s Eric Fleischman has a collection of ties hanging neatly in his closet: one for every occasion. But he won’t have reason to wear them often anymore: After nearly 39 years of teaching – 29 of them at Sisson School in Mount Shasta – Fleischman officially retired last month.

Born and raised in Yreka, Fleischman was an attentive teacher, coming in before and after school to assist students who needed individual help. He was also the Mount Shasta Union School District’s technology coordinator and the lead negotiator for the local chapter of the California Teacher’s Association.

Fleischman said he originally wanted to be a wildlife biologist, but he ended up following in his parents’ footsteps: they were both teachers. After graduating from Yreka High School in 1976 and College of the Siskiyous in 1978, Fleischman attended Chico State University and began his teaching career in Southern California.

His first job in education was in Covina teaching fourth graders. Later, he started teaching older middle school students – sixth, seventh and eighth graders – in San Bernardino.

After 10 years teaching at different schools in Southern California, Fleischman returned to Siskiyou County and was hired by the Mount Shasta Union School District in 1991 to teach sixth grade.

In 1999, Fleischman took over as Sisson’s eighth grade math and science teacher, a job he performed until his June 6 retirement.

When asked his favorite part of teaching, Fleischman responded, “Working with the students and meeting each student where they were at and helping them overcome any barriers to learning.”

He advised anyone who is considering going into the education field to ensure they enjoy working with kids. More importantly, they should have patience.

“You have to keep an open mind,” Fleischman continued. “There are a lot changes going on, especially now ... so you have to be flexible and be willing to change your plans at the drop of a hat.”

Fleischman also advised potential teachers to get to know their students – the fads at the time, their likes and dislikes.

“You have to get to know who they are so you can meet them where they’re at,” he said.

Among the many projects Fleischman coordinated at Sisson was the eighth grade egg drop competition, which culminated with a countywide competition at COS. The Golden Frying Pan, which went to the winning school’s team, often hung proudly in Fleischman’s classroom.

With his newfound freedom, Fleischman plans to relax with his wife Paula and do some traveling. The couple has a fifth wheel on the Oregon coast, where they enjoy summers camping, fishing and enjoying life.

As for that closet full of ties, Fleischman said he’ll keep an eye out for a deserving teacher who needs a tie that sings Christmas songs at the touch of a hidden button, one that’s shaped like a fish, or one that’s decorated with tiny scoops of ice cream. That last one, he said, was a student favorite.

Siena is a Mount Shasta High School junior and an aspiring writer. She is interning for the Siskiyou Daily News and Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers over the summer as part of the Upward Bound Program.