Butler County Times Gazette
  • USD 402 recognizes retiring teachers, Teachers of the Year

  • Reception held to honor teachers.
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  • Dr. Black welcomed and introduced Mr. McCalla, who spoke briefly, mentioning the retirees’ combined experience serving children in Augusta (221.5). He also wished them a long and rewarding retirement, telling an anecdote of his 97-year-old mother who, as her doctor says, does exactly what she wants because she’s 97.
    The Teacher of the Year video (which will be uploaded to our YouTube channel sometime today), was presented to the audience, and then Mr. McCalla presented the Teachers of the Year with their awards while Dr. Black spoke about each one, mentioning Mrs. Shaffer’s wax museum project and Mrs. Simmons’ vocal music productions as just one example (each) of the educational excellence occurring in their classrooms on a daily basis.
    Mr. McCalla presented each retiree with flowers and a formal award while Dr. Black spoke about each one. He spoke about all of the retirees, including Mrs. Lewis, who was unable to attend the reception.
    After Dr. Black spoke about Mrs. Ibarra, she shared her story of coming “full circle” with Mr. McCalla, having first met him at the teacher interview day at Emporia State just before her graduation. Mr. McCalla, then elementary principal in Sedgwick, was performing interviews of teacher candidates at ESU that day and wound up hiring Mrs. Ibarra to teach in his building there in Sedgwick. A couple years after Mr. McCalla came to Augusta to be Garfield principal, he hired Mrs. Ibarra to teach at Garfield. And the circle became complete at the reception with Mr. McCalla, as BOE president, presenting her with her retirement award.
    Dr. Black wrapped up the ceremony with comments about the high quality of the retirees, as well as the entire USD 402 educational team. He used a very simple and powerful quote from Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric: “The team with the best players wins.”
    Janet Clark has been teaching for 40 years, 38 of them at Garfield Elementary. She has taught 5th grade for most of that time and says one of her most memorable moments was going to Washington DC in 2006 with the whole Garfield faculty to receive the school's National Blue Ribbon Award.
    "I will always remember that moment of pride," says Clark.
    She identifies technology as the biggest change she has witnessed in education, "Students now have so many opportunities to use technology in their learning," she says.
    She believes it is critical for teachers to enjoy children.
    "I would advise anyone going into education to enjoy their students," says Clark. "They are amazing, and working with them has brought me many wonderful memories."
    Clark says she plans to enjoy spending time with her family, as well as traveling, during retirement.
    Page 2 of 4 - Peggy Cyphers has been a secretary at Augusta Middle School for 20 years. She has worked for seven different principals during that time and says the changes from one to the next are always interesting in terms of the procedural and policy differences each principal brings to the office.
    Peggy says she has many memorable moments from these years. In fact, she says, she should've kept notes.
    "I could've written a book," she laughs.
    She cites "technology" as the biggest change she has seen in her job over the years, and, to the person who fills her position next year, she cautions, "KNOW that each day at the middle school is different. No two days are alike."
    During retirement, Peggy plans to go on bicycle rides with her husband (of 43 years!), learn to play golf, and spend time with her family, including her four grandchildren.
    Eileen Dreiling has been in education for 37 years -- 22 as a teacher and 15 as an administrator. All but her first two years were right here in Augusta, first at the high school -- as teacher, coach, and sponsor; dean of students; and assistant principal -- then at the middle school as principal.
    Much like Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Dreiling believes that teachers must know and care about the kids. "Then be prepared, professional, persistent, and passionate about what you do," she says.
    In the classroom, her special memories involve helping students with personal crises and finding out that things did get better or work out for them. Outside of the classroom, she says, there was, "of course," the early-'80's trips to state in volleyball, topped off with the championship in 1982.
    "Knowing that I loved going to work every day is memorable in itself," says Mrs. Dreiling.
    Mrs. Dreiling says she has no specific plans for retirement, saying she "will embrace what life brings."
    Kathey Gibbs has been in education 40.5 years, 38.5 of which have been in Augusta at the high school. She has taught English, journalism (including both yearbook and newspaper), "and even psychology for several years," she says. In addition to being the sponsor of the co-curricular yearbook and newspaper programs, she also served as dance team sponsor for several years.
    Her advice to new teachers is to "keep an open mind and a sense of humor. Be prepared for change. Expect frustration, but 'don't sweat the small stuff.' Most of all, have fun -- best 'job' ever!"
    Noting difficulty with picking just one memorable moment, she says, "Often the littlest things mean the most," such as being thanked many years later for posting a student's original poem on the bulletin board. Coincidentally, this person was at parent-teacher conferences for her child--one of Ms. Gibbs' students.
    "Her story reminded me just how important the smallest act of encouragement can be," says Gibbs.
    Page 3 of 4 - Having actually retired at the end of first semester this year, Ms. Gibbs reports that she is enjoying having the time to spend with her daughter and grandson. She also plans to do some volunteer work and some writing -- and, when she wins the lottery, some traveling.
    Tami Ibarra has been in education for 39 years and at Garfield Elementary in Augusta for 35 years. She has taught upper elementary -- 4th grade for six years, then 6th grade until it was moved to AMS, then settling into 5th grade.
    Along with Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Ibarra also lists the 2006 trip to Washington DC, when the staff accepted the school's National Blue Ribbon Award, as her most memorable moment.
    About changes in education, Mrs. Ibarra says, "Other than the obvious technological advances, I think the accountability issue as measured by testing of educational standards is huge."
    For new teachers, Mrs. Ibarra says, "Teaching is all about relationships. Let your students know you care about them. All the best research-based practices and strategies will be ineffective without good student relationships."
    Mrs. Ibarra says she plans to spend time doing the things that make her happy during retirement. Two of those things? Spending time with her grandchildren and enjoying the great outdoors.
    Ellen Lewis has been a para-educator for the Butler County Special Education Cooperative since 1987. Her first assignment was in the special education department at Augusta Middle School, where she worked for five years. She also worked at Rose Hill Middle School and Andover High School after that, before returning to work at Augusta High School for the past 13 years.
    Mrs. Lewis is the vocational para-educator for the special education program at Augusta High School. She works with businesses in the Augusta community to arrange vocational experiences for students to help prepare them for the work world after they graduate. She "coaches" them and transports many of them to and from their vocational location during the school day.
    Students work for one class period of their school schedule for a semester and receive a half credit. The hope is that they do such a good job that they are hired by the business for a permanent position.
    She says her favorite part of the job is the excitement of students when they tell her they've been hired by the business they worked for during their vocational experience.
    Barbara McCalla has been in education for 41 years, 37 in Augusta. She has taught at Lincoln, Robinson, and Garfield Elementary schools--the past 22 at Garfield. In addition to teaching music and then 3rd grade, she has also been Garfield's Title I reading teacher and provided professional development for teachers in cooperative learning and Teacher Expectations/Student Achievement (TESA).
    Her favorite memories center around those times when "a struggling student finally achieves a long sought-after goal, when an adult thanks you for caring about them long ago."
    Page 4 of 4 - Besides all the changes that technology has brought with it, Mrs. McCalla says the biggest change she has seen is the "accountability factor.
    "Much of education at this time is driven by student data, and educators are held accountable to show improvement in their students' progress as shown by this data," she says.
    Mrs. McCalla's advice to new teachers? "Your students need to know you truly care about each of them."

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