Retirees reflect on changes in education
Superintendents, principals found careers with fulfilling
The end of the school year often means impending change, reaching milestones, reflecting on the past and looking to the future. While this is true for students - especially those graduating high school or advancing from one school to the next - it also can be said of faculty closing out careers.
This month, 34 administrators, teachers, specialists and assistants in the eight school districts across the North Shore are retiring. Cumulatively, the retirees have more than 1,000 years of experience and have seen the face of education alter as the world has been changed through technology, societal norms and, locally, fiscal restraints that more recently have pinched school districts.
The two most veteran superintendents within the North Shore are among the retirees. Jim Rickabaugh began oversight of the Whitefish Bay School District 10 years ago, while Gary Petersen, district administrator of Fox Point-Bayside, has assumed the role for eight years.
Rickabaugh, who has worked largely in education since 1973, has served in several districts in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.
Describing his profession as "rewarding," Rickabaugh said there are many aspects of his role as superintendent he will miss greatly.
"Without question, the opportunity to engage with young people as they're learning has been such a wonderful experience," Rickabaugh said. "I've had the opportunity to see many educators' skills grow here in Whitefish Bay. They're always gaining new levels of insight and are finding new ways of improving student learning."
Petersen also has worked for several districts. Twenty-six of his years were spent in the Brown Deer School District, where he was a guidance counselor, principal and, eventually, superintendent.
"I've always thought it was great to work with the different families and citizens of the communities I've been in to talk about what can be done to benefit kids," Petersen said. "The great thing about education is you can make decisions that impact kids and help them make good choices."
School earned award
Two principals in the North Shore also are taking final bows this month: Linda Moore at Stormonth Elementary School in the Fox Point-Bayside School District and Mark Roherty at Homestead High School in the Mequon-Thiensville School District.
Moore is winding down her career on a high note. Stormonth was one of two Wisconsin schools to receive the 2010 State Schools of Character Award. In recent years, staff at the elementary school have engaged kids in thinking about ethical behavior through an anti-bullying initiative.
"I was really torn about making a decision to retire because I love being at Stormonth so much," said Moore, who began as principal at the school 14 years ago. "It's been an amazing experience. The staff have always been fantastic, and the support from the citizens in Fox Point and Bayside has been great."
Roherty's long-running educational career includes 20 years as principal of Homestead. In addition to interacting with staff, Roherty said he always enjoyed watching students find their niche through the activities offered at the high school. Graduation time, he said, was always memorable. Sitting in on the final one Sunday, he said, was "bittersweet."
"I always loved the hiring process and bringing in new teachers and faculty because they are such a key component," Roherty said. "I enjoyed sitting in on classes and observing what takes place. I've had a wonderful career and a great time in this community."
Changes inside, outside
Few would argue education has changed in the past three decades with regard to classroom delivery and shifting priorities through such legislation as the No Child Left Behind Act.
"In the past decade, especially, there has been much greater accountability," Rickabaugh said. "There once was a time when it was up to students to take the steps if they didn't get what was being taught. Today, if a student isn't learning, the approach is the teacher needs to find another way to teach the material."
Being a largely landlocked area, North Shore school districts have been experiencing declining student enrollment for several years. That factor, coupled with less aid from the state, means many districts across Wisconsin are contending with annual budget shortfalls.
"There's always been the pressure to be good stewards of our budgets," Roherty said. "But I think there's been much more of a balancing act in recent years. We've had fewer and fewer resources and have had to find innovative and creative ways of striving for excellence for our students."
Even as the world and the state of education have been shifting, the departing administrators have seen one constant in their careers.
"When you get right down to it, kids are still kids," Moore said. "Not much has changed in that way."
AT A GLANCE
North Shore school district staff retirements
• Jan Williams, guidance counselor, Brown Deer Middle School
• Linda Moore, principal, Stormonth Elementary School
• Gary Petersen, district administrator
• Sandra Retherford, K5 teacher, Stormonth
• Carol White, band teacher, Bayside Middle School
• Jeanne Bennett, fourth grade teacher, Glen Hills Middle School
• Judy Foley, kindergarten paraprofessional, Parkway Elementary School
• Helaine Glass, librarian, Parkway
Maple Dale-Indian Hill
• Sally Bendrock, special education paraprofessional, Homestead High School
• Joan Chisley, psychology specialist, Oriole Lane and Wilson Elementary schools and Steffen Middle School
• Kay Fine, English teacher, Homestead
• Monica Gantner, math teacher, Homestead
• Connie Jaeger, math teacher, Homestead
• Judy Johnson, English teacher, Homestead
• Rosemarie King, third grade teacher, Oriole Lane
• Beverly Lange, library media support assistant, Homestead
• Sandra Marks, library assistant, Wilson
• Randy Pierce, fifth grade teacher, Oriole Lane
• Shirley Reis, librarian, Wilson
• Mark Roherty, principal, Homestead
• Alice Schilleman, librarian, Donges Bay Elementary School
• Judith Staats, academic success center, Homestead
• Christine Winnemann, fifth grade teacher, Oriole Lane
Nicolet High School
• Mike Chiaverina, art teacher
• Lon Glaznap, English teacher
• Terry Hrycyna, speech and language therapist, Atwater Elementary School
• Carl Deblitz, industrial technology teacher, Whitefish Bay High School
• Bruce Gill, computer science and computer education teacher, Whitefish Bay High School
• Cynthia Graham, first grade teacher, Richards Elementary School
• Kathy Kupfer, sixth grade teacher, Whitefish Bay Middle School
• Jane Meulendyke, physical education teacher, Whitefish Bay Middle School
• Jim Rickabaugh, district administrator
• Kathleen Riebau, vocal music teacher, Whitefish Bay Middle School
• Peter Zarwell, eighth grade science teacher, Whitefish Bay Middle School
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