This year the Hiawatha/Howe Community Schools will be losing educators with 201 years of combined experience. Four teachers, Kim Berg-McGowan (grade 2), Gbai Gudnecht (grade 1), Nancy Hofschulte (Special Education), Jan Bauer (music), Jane Fischer (speech pathologist) and Lillie Pang (principal) are retiring moving on to a new phase of life. Like other rites of passage this spring, their send-off celebrations have been put on hold, but our gratitude remains.
Daily joy and greeting the unexpected with students is what these educators say they will remember. Special events and traditions such as musical programs and Howe Drama Club, Field Day, Field Trips and Spirit Week will be special memories. There were funny memories along the way. This one comes from Principal Pang:
“It was time for recess as I was giving directions to the class. I picked up a volleyball from the corner of the room. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something black on the volleyball. I grabbed it and threw it on the floor. All the students gasped. What I had thought was a big clump of dust was really a big black spider. I gained a lot of respect that day from my students.”
And this one is from Ms. Fischer: “I was working with a student in front of the speech mirror on the /gr/ sound. I said, “/gr/, like the color green.” The student said, “Yeah, kind of like your teeth.” I replied, “Really? I never noticed that.”
What will they miss? Seeing “The spark,” when students have that moment when the learning comes together. They will miss the fun of the children, support of families, colleagues and volunteers like Mr. Eddie Speers, and the wonderful atmosphere of Hiawatha/Howe Community Schools. The word “joy” was used many times when describing what will missed.
Grandchildren and family came up most often when inquiring about plans for the next chapter. Mrs. McGowan has moved to Fergus Falls to be closer to her grandchildren. The move came sooner than expected because with Distance Learning she can teach from there. For some, transitioning out of their current roles is a process which will include volunteering to teach in other capacities. Mrs. Hofschulte plans to teach reading to immigrant adults. Friends, and travel are also in the future for these retirees.
With over 200 years of experience, there are most certainly a few parting words of wisdom and advice they would like to share. Mrs. Bauer says, “Be kind and keep growing.” Ms. Fischer says, “Enjoy each day. It goes by fast.”
And Principal Pang says: “There is a saying: Give me a fish, I eat for a day. Teach me to fish I eat for a lifetime.
“I believe an education is the ticket out of poverty. Teaching will give students skills to reach their dreams. I enjoy running into former students and learning about their careers which range from being a manager, to a daycare director, to a nurse. Teaching is a very rewarding career. It is not for the faint hearted. I have a coffee mug on my desk that reads: What’s your super power? I teach. It is time to pass my cape on to the next generation of educators and watch them soar!”
Saying good bye to these retirees is hard especially at this time. We hope we can celebrate with them in the fall. In the meanwhile, if you’d like to send them warm wishes, you can email them before school gets out for the summer. Connect with them through Hiawatha Community School website. https://hiawatha.mpls.k12.mn.us/staff_directory_2
Hiawatha and Howe have been very lucky to have had such dedicated staff members. As they move on into retirement, we wish them well.
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