- Eyes On
As several retirees received recognition for their work by Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education members, board members approved several other upcoming retirements.
Wapakoneta Middle School Principal Ray Payne, Technology Coordinator Steve Schuler, third-grade teacher Yvonne Cook, high school social studies teacher Dennis Cosart, middle school science and social studies teacher Edna Elisha Smith, Title I reading teachers Jean Turner and Melanie Webb, bus driver Sheryl Beers, and Wapakoneta Elementary School para-educator Nancy Hunter are retiring this year.
All are scheduled to retire as the school year comes to a close.
Payne, who is scheduled to retire June 30, said he is looking forward to new challenges at this point in his life.
“I have no concrete plans yet,” said Payne, who aspires to help student teachers, possibly at the college level. “I have to do something.”
He was first hired by Wapakoneta City Schools as a math teacher in 1983. He previously spent eight years teaching in Colorado, as well as spending time as a graduate teaching assistant and a year teaching at St. Joseph School.
He taught for 17 years in the district before becoming assistant principal and then principal at Wapakoneta Middle School.
“I’ve been very blessed to work alongside that team,” Payne said, describing his upcoming retirement as bittersweet. “You develop relationships with all the people you work with. I think the quality of people in Wapakoneta City Schools is phenomenal.”
Payne said after discussions with his wife, Becky, to whom he’s been married 40 years, they decided it was time for him to retire.
“So many little things just make it seem to fit, both professionally and personally,” Payne said. “I’ve been around the block long enough to know I can easily be replaced.”
In addition to Payne’s 29 years of experience with the district, Schuler, who used to serve as an art teacher in the district, also is retiring with 29 years of experience with Wapakoneta City Schools.
Cook, Turner and Webb all retire with 35 years experience, Cosart with 33, and Smith with 21.
Wapakoneta City Schools Superintendent Keith Horner said they have not yet determined how they will handle vacancies in those positions.
Recognized during a regular meeting of the Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education on Tuesday were those who retired before the school year has concluded, including, Deb Madden, a speech pathologist with 38 years of service; Marilyn Shaw, a fourth-grade and middle school gifted teacher with 27 years of service; Bart Smith, a seventh- and eighth-grade science and math teacher with 21 years of service; Marc Maxson, a mechanic with 26 years of service; and Linda Carter, a bus and van driver and monitor with the district the past 17 years, with prior experience before that.
“We’re losing 129 years of experience tonight,” Horner said as he recognized each of the retirees with a gift. “It’s always a kind of bittersweet occasion. We’re sad to see them go, but happy for them. They’ve done so much for our kids.”
Describing Madden, Horner said she served so many youngsters in the district through the years and got to see their growth.
“That was always a great reward for you,” Horner told her. “The caring that you had for them can’t be replaced.”
Horner said Madden’s caring extended into her last day of service and was so evident in how anxious she was about who would be replacing her.
He said Shaw excelled at getting gifted students to achieve even more and think even larger.
A mark of a good teacher, is one he would want his child to have and Horner said Shaw was that type of teacher.
Shaw also achieved National Board Certification, which takes a lot of work and is something only a few teachers in the district have.
In addition to teaching, Smith also did a lot of coaching.
He took those unique children under his wing and helped them grow, Horner said of the man with an infectious laugh and smile.
“We’ll miss that and everything he does in the classroom for our kids,” Horner said.
Maxson was ready to move on to another phase of his life, but he served the district well through the years.
Horner recognized Carter for her work as leadership on the classified association and for the special relationships she developed with children as she watched them grow up through the years riding her bus.