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Retiring district employees recognized for service to schools

On ‘Dress Like Mr. Walker Day’ last month, Elle Wilson (left) and Katie Brown joined other Westside Elementary students in dressing like their principal. Walker retired this year after 30 years at the helm of Westside. On ‘Dress Like Mr. Walker Day’ last month, Elle Wilson (left) and Katie Brown joined other Westside Elementary students in dressing like their principal. Walker retired this year after 30 years at the helm of Westside. Tribune photo by Tessa Schweigert

Eight employees who have worked a collective 209 years at Park County School District No. 1 retired this year.

The Powell school board recognized the retirees at its meeting May 13.

“We have a lot of staff that have been here a long time,” said Rob McCray, the board chairman.

He thanked all the retirees for their dedication and service to the district.

“You’re very much appreciated,” McCray said.

Employees who had worked for more than 20 years received a bell, and a plaque was given for 10 years of service or more. Listed in order of years of service are:

• Jean Hubbard, a guidance counselor at Powell Middle School, has served the district for 33 years.

“We are an incredible school because of Jean,” said Jason Sleep, middle school principal. “She’s been a great friend, a great colleague.”

Sleep said he met Hubbard when he was a student at the middle school.

Sleep thanked Hubbard and told her, “You’ve been an amazing person to work with.”

“She’s one of those people that, when she works with kids, the kids are different,” Sleep said. “You always wish that for kids.”

When kids have issues or problems, meeting with Hubbard helps them, Sleep said.

“You just know it every time,” he said.

Hubbard said she appreciates the district and everything it’s done, saying it’s been wonderful.

“I came thinking I would probably stay a few years, and here I am,” Hubbard said.

• Dennis Wegner, the district’s transportation supervisor, is retiring after 33 years.

Over the years, there are people you work with who stand out, said Kevin Mitchell, superintendent of Park County School District No. 1.

“Dennis is going to stand out for me,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he and Wegner have quite a bit in common, including an upbringing in rural Wyoming/Montana. He said one of them coined the term “Ride for the Brand,” and over the years when they talked about various issues and decisions, they would ask if it was a way to ride for the brand.

“Dennis rides for the brand every day,” Mitchell said. “Without a doubt, for a long time, every day.”

Mitchell said he will miss Wegner and thanked him for his service.

“I’ll also say that I don’t think any other district in Wyoming has the bus fleet that has the hands-on care that Dennis Wegner has given the buses in this district,” Mitchell said.

Wegner said Tom Lobstein, a bus driver who also is retiring, paid him one of the best compliments Wegner’s ever had. A few years ago, Lobstein was bringing the football team home across a mountain in bad weather on a Friday night, and the bus was supposed to leave from Powell again early the next morning.

Coach Jim Stringer was worried, because the bus needed to be cleaned before it could be ready to go again.

Lobstein told the coach not to worry about it, because Wegner would be there to get the bus ready, even if meant getting there at 3 a.m. to get the bus ready by 6 a.m.

“I didn’t think anybody ever noticed,” Wegner said. “I thought that was a pretty cool compliment.”

Wegner said he appreciates the school district and has had a good time working here.

“I’ve enjoyed doing what I do, and I’ve enjoyed making the transportation system in Powell be A-1, anywhere you want to go,” Wegner said. “We’ve done a lot of firsts in transportation in Powell, and I think that will continue.”

• Principal Brent Walker has been at the helm of Westside Elementary School for 30 years.

“To stay in the profession that long and to be a principal for 30 years in one district and school is absolutely phenomenal,” said Mitchell. “Brent has done some amazing things with the staff at Westside. He continues to amaze me.”

Walker is a quiet guy, Mitchell said, but he has a lot of knowledge to share about education and a variety of areas of life.

“He’s got a very interesting life,” Mitchell said, noting Walker and his wife love to travel.

Mitchell thanked Walker for his years of service.

“He’s certainly been a great addition, and we are going to miss him.”

Walker thanked everyone who he has worked with over the years.

“Together, we made a pretty good school, I think,” he said.

Walker has been in education administration for 39 years, saying it took nine years of practice before he came to Powell.

“I’ve loved the job, every day. I’ve enjoyed going to work — you see the fine people I get to work with and be a part of their family,” Walker said. “Plus all of the kids. That’s just brought me a lot of joy every day.”

Walker told the board that he has loved his job — and his son is still trying to find that in his own career.

“I told him to keep looking,” Walker said.

• Cheryl Shuler, an instructional paraeducator at Parkside Elementary School, retired in August after 29 years. She was recognized last month with other retirees.

“Cheryl was the mainstay of our paraprofessional staff,” said Kenny Jones, Parkside principal. “If you wanted something done, you didn’t even have to put notes on things. It was incredible — I woud just take things down to the workroom, and it was done. She did that with everybody.”

Jones said Shuler was willing to learn new things and would take on challenges. He said she cruised the hallways and knew what needed to be done.

“She never sat. Her days would fly by, and everything she did was spot on,” Jones said. “She could have walked in and taught a classroom.”

He said she’s a fantastic lady and it was wonderful to work with her.

“Cheryl’s still missed,” Jones said.

• Beverly Huggins, an associate custodian, has worked for the district for 27 years. Sleep said he’s known her since he was a middle school student.

“If you know anything about Bev and a giving heart, that’s all she does,” Sleep said. “She gave herself to the middle school kids, to the staff. She’s always quick to have a smile for you.”

He said she always has cool stories to share, and he’ll miss talking with her at the school. Huggins was always willing to do projects with kids, too, showing them how to spin wool and helping in other ways.

“She added to our educational process, too,” Sleep said.

Huggins thanked the board and said she’s enjoyed the people and kids she’s worked with over the years.

• Mary Reynolds, a fifth-grade teacher at Westside, is retiring after 25 years at the elementary school.

“She has such a kind heart. She does so many things to help the kids, to give the kids that extra little benefit,” Walker said. “The kids love her, and she will really be missed.”

Reynolds told the board that 25 years went by quickly and said Powell has been a wonderful place for her family.

Her career as a teacher started years before she moved to Powell. She thanked the school board for the bell they gave her.

“I have taught 45 years,” she said. “So I think I qualify for the Liberty Bell.”

• Elizabeth Rock has served as a school psychologist for 22 years.

“Liz got started in the district, and they kept moving her around from building to building without a room,” Walker said. “I got to know Liz. She’s an excellent psychologist, a great counselor, and I knew I needed both, so I made a room in the old (Westside) building.”

He said she created an anti-bullying program that went nationwide to different schools.

“We’ve really benefited from her services,” Walker said. “And I think she’s looking forward to opening another chapter.”

• Tom Lobstein has worked as a bus driver for 10 1/2 years. Wegner, his supervisor, said Lobstein has done a good job over the years.

As evidence of his hard work and long hours, Lobstein was unable to be at the school board meeting on May 13 because he was bringing middle school students home from a track meet and the bus broke down that day. He was driving the team home during the meeting.

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