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Petaluma couple and their children have spent more than 100 collective years teaching

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The Street family of Petaluma never intended to become a teaching dynasty in their community, but somehow the numbers added up.

With two math teachers, an economics teacher and a now-retired elementary school teacher working in the same town, the Streets have amassed more than 100 collective years in the classroom.

Parents Carol Ann and Wayne Street Sr. started the tradition, with their careers in local education spanning 39 and 41 years, respectively.

“I think we’re lucky to be there, and it’s fun to do it,” Carol Ann Street said of the family’s tenure.

“Mrs. Street,” as she’s known by her students at Petaluma Junior High School, is still explaining numerical equations and challenging her young mathematicians. Her husband retired in 2009 after his long career in the Old Adobe Union School District, mostly teaching first and second grades, with time also in administration.

Whether it was destiny or chance, three of the couple’s seven children followed in their parents’ footsteps. Wayne Street Jr., 39, is completing his 15th year at Petaluma High School, and Beth Street, 37, is in her ninth year teaching with Petaluma City Schools, currently at Kenilworth Junior High School, where she also coaches track and field.

The family’s newest teacher is Beth and Wayne Jr.’s brother, Mike Street, in his second year teaching math at a high school in Portland, Oregon.

Wayne Jr. teaches economics and Beth, like her mother, teaches math. Both women are department co-chairs at their respective junior high campuses, where friendly crosstown rivalries keep things spirited.

In Petaluma, the family has dedicated 104 years to education in the community, with more instruction to come.

While it may be tempting for the family matriarch and patriarch to share some time-honored tips from the classroom, both allow their offspring to find their own path, and offer advice only when asked.

“I don’t think I’ve ever stepped forward,” Carol Ann Street said.

Her husband’s tips are broad: “Be patient and have a sense of humor,” he said. “The more responsibility you give (students), the more chance they have of getting to succeed.”

Beth Street taught in American Canyon for five years, jumping at a chance to reduce her commute and return to her roots when a job opened in her hometown. Wayne Street Jr. never specifically sought out a job at his alma mater, but didn’t waste time when an opening became available.

The family loves having an impact on young lives, with Wayne Street Jr. sharing in students’ triumphs as the high school seniors get their college acceptances and plan their lives away from Petaluma.

“I treat them like the adults they want to be and think they are,” he said.

With so many Streets in education in Petaluma, there have been moments of confusion and amusement. Petaluma Junior High School feeds into Petaluma High School, where Wayne Street Jr. has taught some of his mother’s former students.

“The sharp ones work to put two and two together,” he quipped.

His sister has taught her father’s former students from Bernard Eldredge Elementary School who are promoted to Kenilworth Junior High School. Beth Street once reprimanded one of her eighth-grade students for his poor choices, calling upon her father — the boy’s elementary school teacher — for a few words with the boy.

“I told him, ‘I’m going to call Mr. Street and tell him,’” she recalled with a laugh. It had an impact, with the boy apologizing to her for his misguided ways.

She also gets a lot of, “My mom had your dad as her teacher,” reminders of the four decades of Streets in the classroom.

For Carol Ann Street, being the mother of seven active kids has had its benefits in the classroom. Wayne Street Jr. is a former tennis pro who teaches kids’ tennis lessons at a summer camp in New Jersey –— and his mother knows the difference between high school boys’ and girls’ tennis seasons.

Long ago when Carol Ann Street was substituting, a student heard an announcement in class about the tennis team leaving for a match. The girl tried to convince Carol Ann Street she was on the team and needed to hurry out.

“I told her she was four months too late,” Carol Ann Street said, “because I knew what kids were doing because I was involved in their lives.”

Beth and Wayne Street Jr. grew up with an awareness their parents seemingly knew everyone — and everything.

“They knew everybody,” she said. “If you did anything wrong, you better come home and tell them before somebody else did.”

The senior Streets both come from a family of educators. The couple, whose ages they prefer to keep a mathematical mystery to their legions of students, seemed destined for the classroom.

Wayne Street Sr.’s mother was a teacher. His sister Pat was a teacher and speech therapist. Carol Ann’s sister Mary is a retired teacher. Two o nieces also work in education, one as a college counselor, another in special education.

The Streets know the impact they’ve had, and continue to have, on students individually and collectively. Wayne Street Sr. runs into students from decades ago who still insist on calling him Mr. Street.

The family appreciates living in a community that’s small enough that they see former students – or students of former students, or students who are trying to make the connections between the Mr. Street at Petaluma High School, the Mrs. Street at Petaluma Junior High School, the Ms. Street at Kenilworth Junior High School and the Mr. Street who once taught at Bernard Eldredge Elementary School.

Only the Mr. Street in Oregon stays out of the mix.

Contact Towns Correspondent Dianne Reber Hart at sonomatowns @gmail.com.

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