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Still At It After All These Years

"My favorite year at Indiana Avenue School in Lansing, Ill., was when I was in third grade. No contest," says The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. "And the reason was - my teacher. Mrs. Freund."

That was in 1960. But for the "My Favorite Teacher" series, The Early Show and Smith tracked down Joyce Freund - and found she's still teaching on occasion.

Over the course of 44 years, she'd moved from Lansing, and the old school had been torn down.

But Freund went on to teach at the Westmoor School in Northbrook, Ill., before retiring. She's sort of retired; she still substitutes from time to time.

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"After so many years and thousands of students," Smith says, "frankly, I was a little surprised she even remembered me."

But, Freund told Smith when they met again, she did: "I saw you on TV and I told my husband I suspected I knew that fellah. And he said, 'Well, there are so many Smiths, it can't possibly be." But I recognized him, big brown eyes, the shape of his face and his head. I was just sure that you had to be this child that was in my third-grade class."

Smith concedes he talked too much in class. But Freund had a way of bringing all the students under control - all 36 of them - without ever raising her voice.

"I have to tell you a story about your mom," Freund said to Smith. "I remember very well a conference that we had and she came to ask me how you were doing and if you were behaving.

"She said, 'You know, he's the youngest of eight children.' And she said, "I remember him getting up on the table and saying, 'Listen to me, listen to me!'''

"So this is what I remember about your family. She couldn't believe you were that well-behaved," Freund chuckled.

"That's pretty embarrassing," Smith said. "I didn't know anybody else knew that story."

"Oh, I knew that early on!" Freund revealed.

Over all these decades of teaching, Freund has seen many changes. Classes today are nothing like they were back then.

"We had to teach every single subject - math, reading, writing, music, art, gym. I took you out for gym!" she told Smith.

"What do you think are the biggest changes from 1960 to now, since you're still subbing," Smith asked.

Freund didn't miss a beat: "Computers. The Internet. Fantastic."

What about the kids of today?

"I just think that they have so much more pressure," Freund responded. "There's just so much more demanded of the kids and of the teachers, with the tests and so forth that everyone has to achieve. It's difficult."

Teaching can be a thankless job, Smith points out, so it's nice to have the opportunity to say "Thank you" to the teacher "who helped mold me, from an eager-eyed kid to an appreciative adult.

"Learning was so much in your classroom," he told Freund. "We'd come in every day with our eyes (wide open, and ask), 'What's going to happen today.' And what could be better than that?"

"Working with children," Freund concluded, "is fantastic. It's a great reward."

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