Nine staff members were honored on their retirement from the Storm Lake School District on Friday, representing a combine 210.5 years of experience in education.
They were thanked for their service, receiving gifts from the Storm Lake Education Association and the school district including a clock and a lifetime pass to school events.
* Judy Fells - 15 years - high school accompanist
Judy grew up in Waverly, NY and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Mansfield University.
She taught music for 10 years in Candor, NY then went back and earned a Master's degree in vocal performance from Mansfield University.
She joined the district in the 1997-98 school year, which was the same year as the music department's first trip to Florida.
"Since then she was my right hand," said former choir director and now assistant high school principal Jeff Tollefson. "This year she was Ms. Rummel's (current choir director) right hand. Judy has helped create an outstanding choral program."
She and her husband Ken - who has been in the ministry for 42 years - have been married for 28 years. They have four children - three boys and a girl - and nine granddaughters.
Plans for retirement include returning school property (that is, fication - music she has accumulated over the years), traveling, visiting family and friends and spending time in New York with her mother. She will also be teaching violin lessons with Carol Peterson.
"It's been a great ride," she commented.
Janet Magnussen - 16 years - middle school Family Consumer Science
Janet grew up in Minneapolis and received her Bachelor of Science degree in home economics education from Mankato State College. She later received her Master's degree from Morningside College in Special Ed.
She substituted several years for the district and was an instructional assistant for two years in the resource room at SLHS.
Janet then taught in the seven-12 resource room at Alta for 13 years and has ben the FCS teacher at SLMS for the past 14 years. Along with her FCS position she has also taught Second Chance REading, fifth-sixth grade keyboarding and has been the student council supervisor for 13 years.
She has enjoyed teaching all four grade level and her favorite memory was when her students made a measuring mistake when making cookies and put 1/2 cup of vanilla and 1/2 cup of baking soda in the mixture instead of 1/2 teaspoon of each ingredient!
She and husband Dave farm by Alta and have three grown children - Ann who lives in St. Paul, Minn.; Lynn lives in Delaware along with her four boys and one daughter and Paul who with his wife and daughter lives north of Storm Lake.
Her future plans include travel, seeing more of her grandchildren, doing projects and hobbies that have been put off for years and doing some substitute teaching.
* Barb Konradi - 34 years - Special Education
Barb graduated from Storm Lake High School in 1974 and went on to Northwest Missouri State. She later earner a Master's degree from University of South Dakota.
She began teaching in the district in 1978. Her first room was at North - in a room located under the stairs. She was currently at the middle school.
She and husband Randy have been married 31 years and have two daughters. Tara is an occupational therapist married to a pilot - they live in Spain. Paige lives in Storm Lake.
Now retired, Barb hopes to do more baking, cooking and reading. She is also starting a "major" gardening project - she has one topsy turvey tomato plant (she'll see how things go from there!) Organizing her house is another project on her list.
"Thank you everyone," she said, adding that the fifth grade team has been awesome to work with.
* Karla Mergen - 26 years - Special Education
Karla grew up in Algona. She had interests in two things - animals and kids. She chose kids, for her first career. She went on to Mankato State but completed her studies at Peru State in Nebraska.
She was a teacher's assistant with the district in 1985 and the following year began at the middle school. Next fall will be the first year in 56 years that she won't have to pose for a school picture - she laughs.
She and husband Steve have two grown children and four grandchildren.
She plans to visit her son and his family in Arizona as well as her mom who lives there.
"I don't know where all those years went," she said. She thanked her coworkers and added that she hoped that she had thanked em many times before now.
Karla shared that it's difficult to leave her job - "We're like a family," she said.
* Roberta Bochtler - 27 years - Title I
Roberta grew up in Detroit, Mich. and attended a Lutheran School. She went on to Concordia College in Chicago. She later earned her Master's degree in early education.
Her first teaching job was in Illinois.
She came to the district in 1985 as a half-time reading teacher and a half-time vocal teacher.
For the past many years she has served as the Title I reading teacher.
She has four grown children and is also a grandmother.
She shared that she always wanted to be a teacher and challenges all the teachers to be advocates for the children.
"It's up to everyone here to see the potential in every child. Be careful what you say to children - they idolize you and will live up to whatever you plant in them. This is a tremendous staff."
* Linda Gutel - 20 years - Elementary Computer Tech/Media Specialist
Linda grew up on a farm near Albert City. She went on to further her education at Spencer School of Business. She worked at a couple banks and for 11 years worked at Buntrock-Salie.
She began working in the district - in the school library - in 1992. In 2001 she became the media specialist and in 2009, she combined all four elementary libraries into one.
"She's the behind-the-scenes gal," said Juli Kwikkel of Linda.
"This is a hard day," Linda said of the saying good-bye. "I haven't been looking forward to it. I love kids. I love books. I love to read. I love technology," she shared, adding that when she came into the district at East School, there were six computers - and know there are hundreds throughout the building.
She and her husband Dave (her high school sweetheart) have three grown children.
Now retired she plans to spend more time with family, travel and read more and "do anything" she wants to.
* Jean Camerer - 25 years - Administrative Assistant/Special Ed Associate
Jean grew up in Hartley, receiving her high school diploma from her dad, who at the time was serving as the school board president.
She went on to Spencer School of Business.
Following her graduation from business school she worked at Buena Vista College as an accounting clerk. She came to the district as a sub and put in 22 years as an administrative assistant and the final three years as a special ed associate.
She has home projects to work on as well as do plenty of camping.
She and husband of 42 years Jim have two daughters.
"Thank you everyone," she said, "for making my time here special. I have so many stories. It's been great and I will miss everyone."
* Mary Schuknecht - 21.5 years - Special Ed Instructional Assistant
Mary grew up in the Royal area, graduating from Clay Central in 1973.
She operated a day care for 15 years and has been a special ed instructional assistant for 21.5 years.
She and husband Steve have been married 38 years. They live in Albert city and have three children - Erica, Jared and April.
Retired, she plans to spend quality time with her kids and grandkids.
* Diane Jones - 26 years - Middle School Principal
Diane graduated from Manning High School in 1973 and earned an elementary education degree from BVU in 1977.
she later earned a Master's degree from Drake and her administration endorsement in 2001 from BVU.
She began her career by teaching second grade at Glidden in 1977. In 1978 she was the seventh and eighth grade reading teacher at St. Mary's. She then served as a media specialist in Waukee. She returned to Storm Lake in 1986 to serve as the Level I reading teacher and from 1988-2001 was the media specialist.
She served as the assistant middle school principal from 2001-07 and became middle school principal in 2007.
She and husband Brad have two grown children - Jenny and Ben.
"There will be a loss next fall when Diane isn't here," said Lori Porsch.
Diane commented that doing research is part of being an educator and she has done her research on retirement so she can be sure she does it right! She is reading at least three retirement books, one entitled, "Smart Women Don't Retire, They Break Free."
Diane doesn't have any plans but is taking some advice from Kenny Chesney and his song "Live a Little":
Step back, smell the rose
Feel the sand between your toes
Step out in the sunshine
I need to live a little, have some fun
Take some time, waste it on number one