‘Being with the youth kept me young’: School board honors 2019-2020 retirees

ST. GEORGE — During a board meeting late afternoon last Tuesday, the Washington County School District Board of Education recognized its 2019-2020 retirees.

Steven Dunham, communications director for the Washington County School District, calls out the names of the 2019-2020 retirees, St. George, Utah, Sept. 8, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

Steve Dunham, district communications director, told St. George News there were 68 people who retired. With 43 years, Kalyn Gubler, former principal of Lava Ridge Intermediate, held the longest years of service.

“If you think about that, that’s a huge loss for us to lose all these people with that experience and that level of commitment and dedication to education,” Dunham said.

Because their final year ended with the schools closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some teachers say they wish they could have had more closure in their final year. Jeanne Hansen, an English teacher who taught at Dixie High School for the last 22 years, told St. George News that what she will miss most in her retirement is missing out on a proper goodbye.

“At the end of the school year with our virtual learning, we never really got to say goodbye to the kids,” she said. “So for me, not being able to say goodbye to my students is what I’m going to miss.”

Superintendent Larry Bergeson stands center with a married couple who are both retiring from the Washington County School District, St. George, Utah, Sept. 8, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

She will also miss the day-to-day interactions with students that kept her feeling youthful.

“The laughter in the classroom. The joys. The tears. The football games. The pep assemblies. I think being with the youth just kept me young, so I think I’m going to miss staying young,” she said. “I’m afraid retirement might make me a little older than I’m ready to be.”

Michelle Carter, the finance secretary at Dixie Middle School, shared in Hansen’s sentiment. She told St. George News that she’s going to miss the associations with all her coworkers.

“I’ll miss my associations with all the people that I worked with, with the administration, with the teachers – especially the teachers because they were such a joy, with the kids, interacting with the students and having their laughter as they go by my office everyday. I’ll miss seeing the people I’ve associated with for 30 years and then all the sudden you won’t see those people anymore.”

She said she loved her job and that “it was just a good day every day.”

District Superintendent Larry Bergeson said he wishes he could do more for those who dedicated their careers to education.

“This doesn’t seem enough for the great work you all have given to the school district and for the kids. We just thank you a million – a ton – for the work you’ve done and the lives you touched,” Bergeson said. “I know many of you and have seen the work that you do. Just thanks for all that you have done for kids.”

The retirees received a traditional bell, a certificate of appreciation and a Minky Couture blanket in honor of their years of service.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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