LAPS says goodbye to LAMS' Kilburn

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

When the group of people you work with and for give you a standing ovation for your efforts, you know your time is well spent.
On Wednesday afternoon a big crowd of parents, students, staff and community members came together to celebrate the efforts of Los Alamos Principal Rex Kilburn and LAMS Registrar Dawn Kilburn, as they end their time with Los Alamos Public Schools.
Rex Kilburn who has spent 27 years in education, 11 of those in Los Alamos, will be returning to Kotzebue, Alaska, to work for a few more years before formally retiring.
LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus, Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn and LAMS Assistant Principal Anna Vargas-Gutierrez all spoke fondly of Kilburn as tears filled the eyes of both friends and family.
“Rex is also genuinely concerned about the well being of all his students and always wanting the best for his staff, students and the community,” said former staff member Claire Swinhoe. “He has a positive, caring approach that is rare in today’s world.”
Wednesday’s celebration took place in Kelly Hall at the Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, where Eskimo Pies and even a Baked Alaska made by parent Rachel Allen were served to the Kilburns’ well-wishers.
The Kilburns celebrated with their son Aaron and mom Catherine Kilburn of Eatonville, Washington.
Steinhaus lightened the heartfelt event for the crowd by sharing a story from Kilburn’s mother. Those stories alluded to the fact that Kilburn may have been in trouble a time or two as a child.
Kilburn, who is also a former fifth and sixth grade teacher at Piñon before becoming LAMS principal, jokingly mentioned how the former staff lovingly forced him out the door to pursue his professional goals at LAMS.
“My time in education has been fueled by the relationships that I have formed with fellow teachers, parents, and most importantly, students,” he said. “I just don’t think that I would get what I need in education if I were to move beyond a principalship.”
The final day of school at LAMS was today.
“The community should celebrate all that Rex and Dawn have done for the school district during the last eleven years,” said Swinhoe. “Working for the schools is not just a 9 to 5 job — there are early starts, late finishes, after school meetings and activities, working on snow days and working within the constraints of school policy. All these things the Kilburns have done tirelessly for a long time to the best of their ability.”
The LAMS staff donated decorations and prepared all of the food with a special donation from the LAMS PTO and Malcolm Carr and family.
“A bit overwhelming for both Dawn and me,” Kilburn said. “Seeing all those people there underscores the fact that our 11 years in Los Alamos have touched many lives — made good relationships-made great memories — and are being sent off with support and an open door to return to the community if that is what our future holds.”