District fetes retirees

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Education > Torres, Jaramillo capture top awards

By Tris DeRoma

Colleagues and family saw a number of their peers off to retirement last Thursday, as the Los Alamos Public School District hosted a retirement party for 17 employees at Fuller Lodge.

They included David Buckland, high school teacher; Paula Dean, assistant superintendent, Mary Jo Fischer, middle school teacher; Ernestina Garcia, instructional assistant at Aspen Elementary; Mary Kathleen Kelly, teacher at Chamisa Elementary; Elizabeth Kulka, teacher at Barranca Elementary; Loree Lynch, secretary; Marie D. Martinez, teacher at the middle school; Maxine Marrufo, custodian; Ruth McNiff, teacher at Barranca Elementary; Debbie O’Dean, a counselor at Aspen Elementary; Mary Plotner, teacher at Mountain Elementary, Ann Revelle, records specialist with student services; Carol Schoenberg, teacher at the high school; Margaret Sheridan, teacher at Aspen Elementary, Linda Valenti, social worker with student services and Barbara Wrobleski-Mullis, teacher at the middle school.

“If I could add up the number of years and then quadruple it, that would probably be the number of students this group has impacted through the years,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said at the retirement ceremony.

In one of her last speeches as assistant superintendent, Dean gave a big thank you to the audience.

“I want to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have so enriched my career,” Dean said. “I want to thank you all for what you taught me about perseverance, for what you taught me about not only intelligence and competence but especially about kindness and persistence, and I appreciate you all very much,” she said.

Also honored at the event were those in the running for “Teacher of the Year” award. Finalists included Andrea Determan, Barranca Elementary; Lynn Ovaska, Los Alamos High School; Jane Rust, Mountain Elementary; Catherine Steinberg, Piñon Elementary; Carolyn Torres, Chamisa Elementary; Janet White, Aspen Elementary and Barbara Jo Mullis, Los Alamos Middle School.

Torres won the award, and she was presented with a $500 check from the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation.
“...She exemplifies so much of what a great teacher is,” Los Alamos School Board member Matt Williams said shortly after the awards were given out. “It’s not so much about the extra time they put in. It’s about being aware of what you can bring into the classroom, how you can approach subjects and students to get your point across. The whole community supports all of you.”

Also honored at the event was the school system’s support staff.

They included Nicki Brennemann, a secretary at the high school, Susan Bustos, instructional assistant at Mountain Elementary, Ivy Church, instructional assistant at Barranca Elementary, Eileen Jaramillo, night custodian at Mountain Elementary; Andrea Lynch, instructional assistant at Chamisa Elementary; Lisa Mietz, secretary at Aspen Elementary; Patsy Sanchez, custodian at Piñon Elementary and Alfredo Tena, custodian at Los Alamos Middle School.

The award for support staff of the year went to Jaramillo. She too was presented with a check for $500 from the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation.

“The LAPS Foundation recognizes that when we pour things into a child some things are seen and some are unseen,” said Joanna Gillespie, LAPSF’s executive director.

“Even though Eileen works in the evening when the children are gone there is still an attitude of excellence and that’s what we wish to recognize.”