Cartwright spanned evolution of technology

Looking back on retiring Becky Cartwright’s nearly 35 years of teaching business education at Princeton High School is a peek into the evolution of some office equipment during that period.

While PHS business-course classrooms might have lagged a bit behind some offices in the business world, her classroom’s progression from electric typewriters to today’s powerful portable computers during the time she taught is some indicator of what happened in the private sector.

When Cartwright began her teaching career in November 1977, the popular IBM Selectric typewriter was only 16 years old and the IBM Correcting Selectric was only four. Cartwright had spent just over two months of student teaching in Alexandria when she began teaching at Princeton High School. The first classes she taught were typing and shorthand. She stopped teaching shorthand after three years. But her typing classes, she said, went until at least 1985, as evidenced by a photo of a typewriter in her classroom in that year’s PHS yearbook.

Cartwright, a native of Shakopee, eventually moved from teaching typing to instructing on keyboarding. She taught basic and advanced keyboarding and then evolved into teaching basic and advanced word processing, basic and advanced computer applications, desktop publication, and multimedia and web design.

She recalls that it was in about 1989 or 1990 that the school district was moving strongly into computers.

Fortunately, Cartwright didn’t have a problem learning the new technology.

Cartwright noted that the move of computers into PHS did not begin in the business department but instead began in the school’s math classes, where computer programming was taught.

“Once the computer became more user-friendly, it came into the business department,” she said, and that was when she began teaching computer applications.

Actually, the early years of learning how to use computers was difficult because it involved learning computer languages such as DOS and Cobalt, she said.

Cartwright also said that advances in technology has helped her teach business courses, noting that teaching these subjects involves a lot of demonstrations. In the early days, small groups of students would have to crowd around a computer as she would give a demonstration and she would then move from group to group. Now, with computer projection screens on the classroom walls, an instructor can show the whole class something at once.

“I love my job because I always liked learning the new technology,” and liked sharing that knowledge with students and fellow staff members, she said.

Cartwright became a resource for teachers having problems in using computers. PHS instructor Shelly Ash recently commented that she feels indebted to Cartwright for “saving” her by helping her get through a computer problem.


Will miss the job

Cartwright said she will miss working with students and colleagues. “The people here are a lot of fun to work with, and are talented,” she said.

Cartwright had other jobs as well at PHS. She coached girls swimming for two years and then coached both boys and girls swimming for about five years. Later she was an announcer for many years at PHS swim meets. She also coached cheerleading for a couple years and was an assistant girls track coach for two years.

Another job she had was PHS yearbook assistant advisor for 11 years.

It wasn’t until Cartwright was asked whether she thought her 3 1/2 decades of teaching went fast, that her face reddened and her eyes began tearing. “No (the time didn’t go fast) because I started out as a young, single teacher,” she began. “I met my husband here (in Princeton). My whole career was here.” It was also in Princeton, she said, that she and her husband had two children and where she made “lifelong friends.”

Cartwright plans to keep at least one connection with the school and that is to continue helping with the Princeton Scholarship Foundation work. She brought technology into place there as well, setting up a program in which students can apply for scholarships online.

“It’s been great,” she said about her career. “It’s been a very fulfilling career. I always enjoyed coming to work every day.”