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How Do You Go About Replacing Over 120 Years of Service?

posted Mar 5, 2020, 10:44 AM by Brenda Williams
In case you haven’t heard, the Pequot Lakes Public Schools are hiring! With eleven staff members retiring this spring, our buildings are faced with the challenge of replacing several long-time colleagues. At the middle school alone, our four retirees represent over 127 years’ worth of experience to the profession! Before moving on, I want to be clear that I’ve always struggled with the term “replacement”. When we’ve had teachers leave for another endeavor (whether a different career path, or in this case, retirement) I’ve found that we’d be foolish to attempt to walk into the hiring process with the concept of replacement in mind. Each teacher brings a unique brand to the “art” and “science” behind classroom instruction, and to think that we can seek to replicate that is simply not realistic.

Beyond the years of service to the students and families of Pequot Lakes in the classroom, it is important to also highlight the countless hours served in the gyms, courts and golf courses over the course of the last three decades. During that time, our community has experienced abundant change. We’re talking about teaching careers that began when Reagan was in office and Apple Corporation first released the Macintosh computer. They have witnessed the evolution from chalkboards to electronic file sharing; from overhead projectors and film strips to high definition interactive screens and beyond.

If we look at 120-plus years of service a different way, one can assume that the coaches in this group have logged enough miles on a yellow school bus to go around the equator at least a couple times riding to matches and games. They’ve most likely contributed to the harvest of an entire forest worth of trees courtesy of papers that have been graded on the living room couch. Most importantly though, is the countless growth exhibited by students who traveled through your respective classrooms. Their nurture, compassion and competence have helped many students to experience exponential growth, not only in academics, but as young men and women as well.

Though this spring will be filled with tributes to these storied staff members, I feel that no “Thank You” card, gold apple, or retirement party can approach the gratitude that our community should demonstrate toward these long-time teachers. Thank you to Bret, Monica, Steve, and Jan, for your incredible impact on our community and beyond. Words cannot express the magnitude of influence you have had over the last three decades in our school district. We are excited, though, to know that you will continue to coach, and maybe even find yourself back in the classroom next fall as a sub.

Due to these retirements …Yes, we’re hiring … and we’re out before many of the other regional school districts. With three positions already hired at the middle school, I also wanted to say thank you to all of you, our readers. I say thanks, because at the end of every interview, we always finish with two simple questions: “Why you?” and “Why us?”. After pontificating about why we should hire them, candidates often cite our wonderful community as a primary draw. Many have fallen in love with the small-town feel with larger school offerings. Our supportive community and wonderful students make my job a whole lot easier!

To our readers, please take a moment to send a former teacher a thank you. Whether Steve, Jan, Bret, Monica, or one of the other retirees from 186, it is incredibly powerful for educators to receive a note that reinforces that they’ve made a difference.

-- Mike O'Neil, middle school principal