• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Retirees honored for years of service to schools

Twenty-one retirees of Woodford County Public Schools were honored by the Board of Education on May 21. The retirees had a combined 559 years of experience.

Schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins congratulated this year’s retirees for “everything you’ve given to our children. It takes every different kind of position in the school district for us to be as good as we can be.

“Whether it’s a bus driver, a cafeteria or office worker, instructional assistant, teacher, administrator – it doesn’t matter. It takes all of us working together as one team with one goal in mind – and that is to help our kids be successful. So thank you for doing that. Thank you for choosing this profession.”

Woodford County Middle School’s Sharon Ohler was an instrumental music teacher, and also a band director, during her 31 years in the classroom.

“I got to see her as a music teacher,” said WCMS Principal Tracy Bruno. “I got to see her fulfill some musical wishes for students…

“Every time we walked into her classroom there was wonderful learning taking place and kids were interacting with one another.”

Huntertown Elementary School teacher Teresa Currens spent 37 years in the classroom before retiring in the fall, and whenever Principal Elaine Kaiser needed anything – batteries or duct tape or paper – she said Currens would find it.

“But probably the most special thing about Teresa,” said Kaiser, “is it didn’t matter who the child was – it didn’t matter if they were stinkers or angels – when you walked in her classroom they were engaged in what she was doing. Because regardless of what she was teaching, they were busy and they were taking part. …Every child in her room was happy to be there.”

Southside Elementary Principal Jason McAllister remembers watching teacher Susan Dowell’s kindergartners dancing to the music when he met her for the very first time. “She was the kindergarten teacher at Southside,” he said of Dowell and her 37 years in the classroom.

Sioux Finney was a social studies teacher for only 13 years at WCMS and then at Woodford County High School, but WCHS Principal Rob Akers said she made a tremendous difference at the high school by being selfless and tireless in her advocacy for teachers and students.

“I do not know how we will even come close to finding someone to fill her classroom, let alone her shoes,” said Akers.

Southside Elementary’s attendance clerk Denise Tucker always did her work and did it well, and because of her dedication and what she brought to the school’s culture during her 28 years, McAllister said she’d be greatly missed.

Mary Adams was an instructional assistant at Huntertown Elementary School for 23 years, but she was much more to her kindergartners.

“She knows her job like no other,” said Kaiser, who described Adams as a teacher without a degree.

“When she’s in a room with teachers, there’s not a lot of difference because she has the same skills. The students absolutely love her – although they don’t love her more than we do.”

Sue Reno wears a lot of hats as an instructional assistant for English Language Learners at both WCMS and WCHS, said Bruno. During her 18 years as an educator, “she was always there for our kids whenever they needed her,” he said.

WCHS reading specialist Kim Walters-Parker has spent 28 years in public education and was described by Akers as “the ultimate lifelong learner.”

“She has a heart of 24-carat goldfor kids who struggle,” he said.

Southside Elementary teacher Elaine Foy (39 years) has a heart for kids, said McAllister, and is “fiercely passionately about those kids that she teaches … what they need and what’s best for them.”

If a kid needed something, he said Foy would fight for it.

“You had a huge impact on those kids,” said McAllister, “and will have (an impact for) their whole lives.” Northside Elementary instructional assistant Debra Gilliam spent 30 years helping students so she’ll be “a huge loss,” said Principal Ryan Asher. “You,” he added, “will be sorely missed.”

Sam Watkins was a principal at WCHS before working in the district’s central office and as education recovery peer with the state Department of Education during his 33-year career.

“He has a heart for kids,” said Hawkins. “He particularly has a heart for those kids who struggle and wants them to achieve at their highest level possible.”

Other retirees who were not present included Northside’s Celia Thompson (35 years) and Sue Eckroth (29 years); Huntertown’s Cynthia Sither (25 years) and Dorothy McIntire (seven years); Phyllis Johnson (17 years) and Linda Lancaster (29 years) with bus garage; Woodford County Middle School’s Kathleen Mook (27 years), Phyllis Washington (30 years) and Charlie Kahn (16 years); and Woodford County High School’s Mary Beth Rouse (27 years).

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