RUTLAND, S.D. (KELO) — A teacher retiring from the Rutland School District got quite the surprise during this year’s kindergarten graduation.

Barb Meyer has been teaching kindergarten in Rutland for 38 years. To honor her retirement, several past students came back to the school to honor her in a special way on Wednesday, May 11.

This may look like a normal graduation ceremony, but it’s actually a reunion of generations of students who have one thing in common, they had kindergarten with Mrs. Meyer.

“She has made an impact on many students over the years, what an awesome teacher she was, caring, loving, any student that has ever had her is so blessed to have had her,” said Gina Vogel-Hass, past student.

Since this is Barb Meyer’s last kindergarten graduation, school staff invited past students as a surprise.

“She’s just not a person who makes things about herself, but everybody wants to be involved for her, and so many people just reached out to me saying ‘Mrs. Meyer is retiring I’m so sad, we have to do something special’ and I just thought this would maybe be the best way to show her how loved she is in our community,” said Lacey Gehrels, paraprofessional at Rutland Schools.

“Just seeing all of them and when they stood up, you don’t realize how many people and how many lives you have touched and impacted,” said Barb Meyer, Rutland kindergarten teacher.

Meyer started a ‘Kinderbuddy’ system that pairs kindergarten students with 12th grade mentors. This allows older students to not only impact the lives of others, but also return to their old kindergarten classroom.

“Mrs. Meyer was a huge impact in growing up and going through school and having her as a kindergarten teacher. She left so many remarks on our class,” said Isaac Trygstad, senior.

Impacting the lives of current kindergarteners and leaving a lasting mark on those who are all grown up.

“We had fun and whenever it was raining we got to play inside with Mrs. Meyer’s class. She’s a fun teacher,” said Payson Olson, kindergarten student.

After retirement, Meyer plans to spend more time with her family as well as return to the school to be a substitute teacher.