May 11, 2018: National Teacher Appreciation Week

Hello, Black River Falls Community! This is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools. As this week is the National Teacher Appreciation Week, it seems most appropriate to share a message that focuses on the great staff we have! When we talk within the district we say that anyone that engages with students is a teacher, so we use the term teacher as all-inclusive with our staff. Each year we recognize staff for their years of service and particularly celebrate those that are retiring from the district. This year we have a small list of retirees, which we think is fantastic news!

When you talk to business owners of all types, as well as any company that relies heavily on its employees to be able to provide their services, they will all tell you that there is a severe shortage of workforce. Education is no different. The percentage of students going to college in the field of education has reduced in the state of Wisconsin by over 30% compared to five years ago. This makes it more important than ever for us to attract and KEEP the great people we have working for us!

Let’s start with the retirees. This year Mary Rykken has decided it’s time to hang up her clipboard and whistle. She has over 38 years in education, 23 of them right here teaching phy ed! She has coached softball for 22 years in Black River Falls. When asked what she’s going to miss, her quick response was the relationships that she has built with students and families.

Jean Helland is also retiring this year. She has worked as an aide in the district for 27 years. Imagine the number of students she has positively impacted during that time! Most recently, Jean has worked in the LMC of the middle school and has done an outstanding job! She will enjoy time with her family, particularly her grandchildren!

Ruth Casper retired mid-year but was also celebrated recently at our Spring Banquet. Ruth had worked for the district for 27 ½ years. The first ten were out at Hixton Elementary, and I had the pleasure of being the music teacher during some of her time out there! Ruth has been at the high school as a secretary ever since. She also serves as a Hixton First Responders as well as the Hixton Township Clerk. Her First Responder skills were put to great use in her role with the district! She is also looking forward to the time with her granddaughters and being able to volunteer more with the many organizations she is a part of.

Our fourth retiree is Betty Jahnke, Betty has only been with the District for three years but has been providing top quality professional development for some of our staff for many more years than that! Betty is a trained Reading Recovery Teacher Leader and has been extremely generous with sharing her wisdom with the rest of our staff. She has excellent skills and will be greatly missed!

In addition to the retirees we also recognize years of service, we were excited to celebrate with Penny Vanderpal, who has been driving bus for us for forty years. There are many that wouldn’t last a week doing that job, she remains a top-notch performer forty years into it! We also celebrated with Karen Kutcher, HS Counseling Secretary, and Steve Marg, HS Custodian, for thirty years of service. We had four staff members recognized for 25 years of service; Paul Anciaux, fourth-grade teacher; Les Dokkestul, MS Social Studies; Steve Markee, Alternative Education; and Brian Stemper, MS Tech Ed teacher. We also celebrate each of the employee groups in five-year increments. There were seven staff members celebrating 20 years, five celebrating 15 years, four were celebrating 10 years, and fourteen celebrating five years with the district!

Each year when we ask families to tell us what they appreciate most about the School District of Black River Falls, and the number one response is always about our staff. People say that they feel like it is a family atmosphere, they reference how caring the staff is, how much the staff is invested into their child's success, the list really goes on and on.

This week, and every week, we are appreciative of the fantastic people that are interested in working with us and doing the great work of serving our students and families!

As always, thank you for your support of the School District of Black River Falls. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me! Let’s show our Tiger Pride in all that we do!

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