USD 234 has a slate of personnel retirements this school year which ended May 13, an unprecedented year in education because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The following teachers responded to an email request to feature them on fortscott.biz.
Kyle Parks was the Fort Scott High School Agriculture Instructor
“My entire career was at FSHS,” Parks said. “I truly enjoyed working with youth that had ties or interest in the agriculture field. They are more mature, responsible and just a blast to be with compared to the non-ag students. I also enjoyed the teachers and admins at the high school. They are a great bunch to work with.”
For Parks, the last year with the COVID-19 Pandemic has been a challenge.
“The Covid and Zoom (classes) and other newer technology was a struggle for me,” he said.
RoAnn Blake has been a third-grade classroom teacher at both Winfield Scott and Eugene Ware Elementary Schools in Fort Scott from 2008 until 2021.
“The best part of teaching was seeing the students every day and sharing with them in their successes,” she said.
*The most challenging was making sure each student’s needs were met, even with all the bumps in their paths.”
Sondra Ruhl taught Special Education at Eugene Ware Elementary School from 2012-2021.
“In 1987, I worked as a paraeducator at Winfield Scott Elementary School for 12 years,” she said. “Then I moved to the high school where I worked for three years. I then went back to college and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. I was hired in Missouri and taught Special Education for eight years while getting my Masters Degree in Special Education Teaching. In 2012, I was hired to teach Special Education at Eugene Ware where I have been for the last 9 years.”
“The best part of teaching is seeing my students have that ‘Aha’ moment when they were finally able to understand a concept that used to be hard for them,” Ruhl said.
“The most challenging part of teaching is all of the paperwork that goes with teaching special education,” she said. “This year has been the biggest struggle with Zoom meetings and the challenges that came with COVID teaching.”
Donna Davis has been a special educator at Winfield Scott Elementary School from 1995 to 2021.
“I graduated with my bachelor’s degree from Missouri Southern State University in psychology/special education in 1982,” she said. “I began teaching special education grades K-2 in Missouri from 1982 to 1995. I received my master’s degree in early childhood special education from Pittsburg State University in 1994. I came to Fort Scott in 1995 to teach the special education preschool and finished my teaching career as the first-grade special education teacher at the end of this 2020-21 school year.”
For Wilson, the best part of teaching has always been the children. “Watching them learn and grow has given me great joy throughout the years. I have always loved my job and I will truly miss it!”
A challenge has been teaching during the pandemic, she said.
“Missing out on the end of the 2019-20 school year was very difficult for both the students and teachers.”
Martha Clements was the 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher
“I have taught all 32 years as an FSMS 7th-grade social studies teacher,” she said.
“The best part of teaching for me was being able to share with my students a subject I had been excited about since I was their age,” Clements said.
“Teaching was the challenge I pursued and I have truly enjoyed that challenge.”
Ronda Peterson has taught for 36 years.
She taught eighth-grade math for 19 years (2002-2021),
5th grade for three years (1998-2002), and 4th grade for 14 years (1985-1998).
“The best part of teaching was being around kids,” she said. “They are so full of energy! I loved it when I saw student’s eyes light up when they realized they grasped the concept. I also enjoyed watching students helping their friends understand different concepts.”
“Teaching is a profession where students learn but those working with children also learn. I have a greater appreciation for the saying, ‘You learn something new every day.’ I hope I continue to learn something new every day in my retirement. My colleagues also made going to work one of the best parts of teaching!”
This school year has been a challenge for many teachers.
Not only did teachers have to learn to teach distance learners through Zoom meetings and the troubles that go along with loss of internet or connections to students, we were also to continue to have live in-class learning. There was a lot of struggling with this type of learning and we had to adapt sometimes several times a day.”
“There was a lot of new technology we were forced into mastering, whether we wanted to or not. Wearing masks 100% of the time was difficult at best. Many times, we had to remind students to pull their masks up, even though we did not want to wear masks either. Trying to socially distance 14-year-olds is a task many people would find impossible to do.”
“I am sure I will miss teaching….the students, the colleagues, the field trips, the good times. But I am thinking I am going to enjoy retirement….time with family and time to relax.”
Patty Giltner was the 7th grade English Language Arts teacher 6th-8th grade English as a Second Language teacher at Fort Scott Middle School from 1995 until 2021.
” I have been teaching in Fort Scott for 26 years,” Giltner said. “Prior to that, I was employed by Tri-County Special Education and worked as a para-educator in Fredonia schools for 13 years.”
“One of the best things about teaching was having the opportunity to spend my days teaching and building relationships with all of my students over the years,” she said.
“One challenge of teaching was making sure I provided the best possible learning experiences for all of my students while meeting their individual needs.”
USD 234 has a slate of personnel retirements this school year, 16 positions.
“We had ten in 2019-20,” Connie Billionis, deputy clerk of the USD 234 Board of Education said. “Nine in 2018-19 and 18 in 2017-18.”
The following are the people who have retired from the school district this year in addition to those featured:
Brad Cowen – Winfield Scott Custodian
Lois Herman – Eugene Ware Technology Teacher
Tom Lancaster – Bus Driver
Larry Lawrence – High School Technology Education/Carpentry Teacher
Lisa Mathew – High School Paraprofessional
Leslie McDonald – Winfield Scott Counselor
Deb Rice – Winfield Scott Special Education Teacher