Educators thanked for caring for community’s children
WOODLAND — As the end of the 2019-2020 school year approaches, Woodland Public Schools recognizes retiring employees who will end their careers after decades of serving the community and ensuring all children receive a high-quality education.
Read on to learn how each of the retirees dedicated themselves to honing their craft and providing for students in a variety of ways throughout the district.
Sandra Austin, North Fork Elementary School
Sandra “Sandy” Austin worked as a second-grade teacher for North Fork Elementary School from October 6, 1983 until retiring at the end of this school year on August 31, 2020.
“Sandy has one of the biggest hearts of any teacher I have known as she has been a constant caring presence in our building,” said Denise Pearl, principal of North Fork Elementary. “The students and staff adore her, always eager to come to her side for help or support.”
The staff admire Austin’s dedication to her craft and her colleagues. “I don’t think she has missed a single one of our evening events for family and students, always here early to help set up and always one of the last to leave,” said Pearl. “She gives her students every opportunity to learn, recently jumping on-board with remote learning like a pro during the statewide school closure.”
Although she may be retiring, many of Austin’s colleagues have already planned to request her as a substitute teacher as Sandy intends to continue teaching even in retirement.
Rosemary Forsberg, KWRL
Rosemary Forsberg worked as a member of the KWRL school transportation cooperative’s office staff from October 3, 1994 until retiring on December 31, 2019.
“Every office has a ‘go-to person,’ that person who knows how to handle the trickier situations and how everything works in the office, and Rosemary had been our go-to person for 25 years,” said Shannon Barnett, director of KWRL. “Rosemary quite literally had the ability to stay calm in a storm through so many snowstorms throughout the year when she was always the first one to make it to the office.”
The staff of KWRL always appreciated Forsberg’s kind smile and cheerful disposition. “Bus drivers felt comfortable to talk with her about both their excitement over their jobs, but also to discuss the trials and tribulations they faced in their lives,” said Barnett. “She has impacted her fellow coworkers, drivers, and the community, and we wish her the best and most memorable retirement.”
Sandra George, Columbia Elementary School
Sandra “Sandi” George worked as a teacher for Columbia Elementary School from September 6, 1983 until retiring at the end of this school year on August 31, 2020.
“Sandi truly nurtures and cares for the entire Columbia Elementary family, making sure everyone is treated with love, respect, and compassion,” said Ingrid Colvard, principal. “Her mastery of early literacy education combined with her love and devotion has influenced Woodland families profoundly throughout the years.”
Staff remembered many of George’s creative lessons including teaching students how to become astronauts and building moon habitats while supporting each of her students reaching rigorous academic goals.
“Sandi is known as the staff caretaker; the first person to check in on her colleagues and offer support in any time of need,” said Colvard. “Her loyalty and friendship have been key elements to the heart of Columbia Elementary, and we wish her the best in her retirement.”
Annette Kirby, North Fork Elementary School
Annette Kirby worked as a cook for North Fork Elementary School from February 24, 1999 until retiring at the end of this school year on August 31, 2020. For more than 20 years, Kirby worked throughout the school district, starting at Woodland Middle School and working at both elementary schools, spending the past six years serving the students at North Fork Elementary.
A hard worker, her colleagues appreciated her overall attitude to her work. “She may be reserved, but she has a great sense of humor,” said Stacy Brown, director of Business Services who also oversees the district’s food services. “Some may not know this, but Annette is also an extremely talented woodworker and has made many beautiful pieces; she will be missed by all of us.”
Patricia Nickols, Columbia Elementary School
Patricia Nickols worked as a paraeducator at Columbia Elementary School from November 1, 1995 until retiring on January 1, 2020.
“She is a kind-hearted person with an amazing sense of empathy and understanding of those she works with – both staff and students,” said Dale Hillman, a colleague who has worked with Pat for more than 20 years. “Her perpetual laughter brings joy to all those around her.”
In addition to her upbeat attitude, Columbia’s staff appreciated Nickols’ expertise. “She connects easily with children, giving them the courage they need to take on risks in order to learn,” said Colvard. “Her ever-present smile and acceptance of each and every person will be missed, but we wish her the best in her future endeavors.”
Pam Schneider, KWRL
Pam Schneider worked as a school bus driver for KWRL From February 22, 1993 until retiring on September 27, 2019. Schneider’s routes included navigating the winding hills and valleys of Kalama River Road where she safely transported students through rain, snow, ice, and even mudslides.
“For 27 years, Pam drove one of the most treacherous routes in terms of geography and weather plus the location of her route meant leaving during the dark in the morning and, more often than not, returning to the garage in the dark,” said Barnett. “We are grateful that Pam was part of the KWRL team and we will miss her greatly.”
Karen Ward, Woodland High School
Karen Ward worked as a paraeducator for Woodland High School from August 29, 2001 until retiring at the end of this school year on June 12, 2020. School staff admired her dedication and skill handling students with special needs.
“Karen never gets rattled and is always there to help, caring deeply for our students,” said John Shoup, principal. “She has been a tremendous asset to our life skills program as she worked to ensure our students had the best possibly learning opportunities.
The staff wishes Ward the best in her retirement. “We will greatly miss Karen’s warm, friendly, genuine and loving personality,” said Shoup.
Information provided by Woodland Public Schools.