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Stories about the staff retirements within Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. don’t usually attract a lot of attention.
The list that we run in the newspaper around this time of year is something of a tradition. Come the end of the term, teachers, administrators and support personnel turn in letters of intent to retire.
It’s an expected custom. Each year a small group, for a variety of reasons, elects to call it quits. Most have reached an age at which people think in terms of getting out of the workforce. A few have simply had it. An even smaller number have recognized (or had pointed out to them) that the time had come.
Later in the summer, The Republic will publish a list of new hires, the ones selected to step into the slots made vacant by the retirements.
Three or four decades from now, some of those new teachers will likely be on a retirement list.
We published the list of 2012 BCSC retirees last week. It got my attention.
One factor was the size of the list. It was huge compared to past years. There were 57 names on it.
Last year, according to Superintendent John Quick, there were 31 retirees. In 2010 there had been 25 and in 2009 only 12.
One major factor in the exodus this year was an unusual offer made by the corporation, an incentive bonus for those on staff who decided to retire this year. According to corporation officials, the bonus was created to provide hiring flexibility for the next school year when Clifty Creek Elementary School switches to technology- and project-based learning.
“It was almost like a cascade effect after we first announced the offer,” Quick said. “Word passed among the staff, and the list kept growing.”
In the end the 57 teachers split a pool of $1,050,000 — $18,421 per employee. While the size of the list was unusual, the names and their years of service really gave me pause.
Some of the names are practically iconic to generations of students who have gone through local schools and had many of the 2012 retirees as teachers. There were several who have almost been institutions in local education. A number of them have more than four decades of experience, such as Karen Garrity, Leland “Lee” Arthur, Margaret Curry, David Fribley, Rosemary Haro, Gary McDonald and Sherri McKinney.
I’m sure that many of them would have retired anyway — with or without the bonus — and I would imagine there were some who were just tired and had reached the point that teaching was no longer fun.
But when you add up all the years among those 57 — 1,492 years or almost 15 centuries — you recognize the size of our loss.
John Quick has adopted a philosophical attitude about the retirements. “It’s bittersweet,” he said. “We’re losing so much in talent and experience, but we’ve been given an opportunity to do something positive as well.”
There certainly have been other years in which revered teachers have stepped aside, but I seriously doubt there were so many at one time. Each on this year’s list had skills and abilities to relate to and even inspire students, but one comes to mind because of the uniqueness of his story.
Dave Fribley’s 40 years don’t represent the longest tenure on the list, but his retirement signals a symbolic closing of a chapter in local education history. The U.S. history teacher, who also doubled as the school’s swim coach, is the last member of the original Columbus East High School staff.
His first year in the local school system back in 1972 was also Columbus East’s first year of existence following a school board decision to divide Columbus High School into two high schools.
A lot of people are familiar with David because of his role as coach of the East swim team, a post he assumed in 1972 and left 20 years later. It was a relatively short retirement from the sport. He returned in 2001 and intends to remain as coach even in his retirement.
But I’m familiar with David because of what he did in the classroom. Two of my grandchildren were fortunate to have had him as a teacher. So are thousands of other people, young and old. He has been described to me as one of those teachers who is demanding, who has high expectations of his students. While most, if not all, have whined about those expectations, everyone who talked to me gave him a major share of the credit for what they have achieved.
I’m pretty sure that David is not alone on that list of 57 who have inspired generations of young people. When you think that many have taught today’s children, their parents and their parents, the ripple effects of their lives amount to a tsunami of good work.
We’re losing 1,492 years of experience and inspiration.
Harry McCawley is associate editor of The Republic. He can be reached by phone at 379-5620 or email at email@example.com.
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