• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Retirees honored by school board

Woodford County Board of Education members could have been expressing their thanks and emotions about any of the longtime teachers and other retirees who were recognized for 484 combined years of service to students. Board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV thanked the retiring educators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other employees for the difference they've made in the lives of his children and grandchildren during a recognition ceremony for retirees on May 24 at Northside Elementary. "Regardless of what you do," said schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins, "when you work with kids you change lives. So thank you for changing thousands upon thousands of lives. Our district is better because of you. Our community is better because of you." Longtime board member Margie Cleveland said her four children are better people because of the retirees. "You saw things in my kids that I never saw. You brought things out of my children that I never saw," Cleveland said. ".And I know there are lots of other children that you've touched and are successful (who) will never forget the experiences they've had in class - whether it's learning to read, learning to argue." Perhaps board member Karen Brock expressed the board's appreciation best when she told the retirees, "Thank you for all of these years - loving our kids." During her 32 years teaching kindergartners at Huntertown Elementary School, Principal Elaine Kaiser said Carla Mulvaney always made her students feel like superstars in her classroom. She genuinely cares about her students and everyone else around her, added Kaiser. Mulvaney, who spent all but her last three years in the same classroom, said earlier this school year that she never wanted to do anything else but teach kindergarten students. In addition to being a great teacher for 28 years, Margaret Watkins cared about other people with an unbelievable spirit inside and outside of her classroom, Southside Elementary Principal Jason McAllister said. For 38 years, Karen Roahrig was a teacher and she proved that every day. "Karen was a teacher through-and-through in every aspect of how she did things," said McAllister. He described the longtime educator as a great part of Southside Elementary. It will be difficult to fill the shoes being left behind by Southside Elementary speech therapist Marie Vitali, who's retiring after 22 years. McAllister said he could always rely on Vitali to do her job, and do it well. "That is a great legacy," said McAllister. "She has a great rapport with her kids," he added. "She does great things with them. And she had the utmost respect of the people who worked with her every day." Woodford County High School Principal Rob Akers described social studies teacher Kyle Fannin as the consummate educator. During his 24 years in the classroom and as academic team coach, Fannin always wanted his students to experience learning, Akers said. So they got to attend a presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., and learn from those and other trips outside of Versailles and Woodford County. "We've got a lot of pillars leaving this year and Kyle is very much one of (those pillars) at the high school," said Akers. He said Fannin and Susan Carey, retiring after 24 years of teaching social studies at WCHS, were "still bringing it every day - and never mailing it in." Carey was a midwife before she became a teacher "so she's had a lifetime of not only bringing people into the world, but preparing them for the world," said Akers. "What a legacy that she is leaving at our school. You will be sorely missed." Akers described Robin Maloney, who is retiring after 27 years in education, as one of the most selfless people he's worked with as a school administrator and educator. Before becoming a special education instructional assistant at WCHS, Maloney spent 24 years at Woodford County Middle School. "We were the lucky ones to get Robin come work with our students," said Asher. "She's so giving, so patient." During her 33 years in the classroom, Alice Rohach had the opportunity to spend 10 months a year shaping young lives. "I've rarely seen people like Ms. Rohach (who) pull so much out of a seventh-grader," said WCMS Principal Tracy Bruno, a former seventh-grade teacher. "She got seventh-graders to care about poetry." Rick White, described by Bruno as one of "the wisest people I've ever known," taught social studies at WCMS for 20 years. ".I hate to lose somebody so valuable because I know of all the people that are going come behind him, but will never have the experience of working alongside him," said Bruno. Northside Elementary Principal Ryan Asher said he always appreciated teacher Danita Dalcin's calm demeanor. "She's a great mother. A great grandmother now, and I'm sure you're spending your extra time with them," said Asher. "So I wish you the very best in retirement. And you're welcome back any time." Dalcin retired with 21 years in education. Before coming to Huntertown Elementary, Mary Sue Mitchell began her 16-year career as an instructional assistant at Northside Elementary. "She does such a great job with the babies (kindergartners)," said Kaiser. "They love her." Because Mitchell also worked with reading groups in other grade levels, teachers regularly requested Mitchell to return to their classroom so she could work with their students again and again. Cafeteria worker Olivia Routt spent a decade at Northside Elementary taking care of student needs during lunch. And now, Asher said he wishes her the very best in retirement as a mother and grandmother. Kathy Lewis, who spent 10 years in the cafeteria at the middle and high schools, was lauded by her co-workers for always being willing to listen, laugh, and smile. Sandra McDaniel could always relate to her students during her 17 years as a special needs bus driver and monitor, said Kay Tegethoff, director of transportation. She wished her former employee well in retirement. Russell Traugott was a bus monitor for 10 years, and he always enjoyed the humorous insights of students about the world around them. "He's probably one of the most dependable men I've ever met, one of the most kind I've ever met - very gentle and kind with the students," said Tefethoff. Other retirees honored by the Board of Education (not present for the recognition ceremony) were Pam Brown (24 years/WCHS), Gretchen Adams (22 years/Southside Elementary), Mildred Sue Hammons (18 years/Huntertown Elementary), James Dawson (39 years/bus garage), Lois Brewer Gillespie (28 years/WCMS) and Chris Bott (21 years/WCHS).

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