A banquet Thursday, May 30 marked the end of one journey, the beginning of a new one for many retirees and a milestone for others recognized.

Waseca School District held its annual retirement and recognition banquet, and this year, there were 13 teachers and staff members retiring and many who were recognized for their accomplishments.

“Tonight is a night for all buildings to come together as one,” teacher and Workers Educational Association (WEA) co-President Sue McKay said in her opening speech.

These teachers and staff members are valued in the school district whether they have been in the district seven years, 40 years or even their entire career.

The 2019 retirees are Linda Beiser, Becky Borneke, Marlys Froehle, Mary Halverson, Linda Huebl, Kim Miller, Rita Miller, Barb Olson, Dave Prins, Karen Simmons, Sue Topp, Deb Vetter and Deb Werling.

Between them, they’ve spent close to 200 years teaching and supporting the Waseca District.

When the retirees got up to give their thank you and goodbye speeches, many of them talked about Waseca School District being their family. They told stories of their time in the district and the memories that they will cherish.

Froehle has been part of Waseca Public Schools for 37 years, as a second-grade teacher for 35 of those years.

“This family works hard day in and day out …,” Froehle said. “I am proud to call myself an educator of Waseca Public Schools.”

Karen Simmons, another retiree, started her teaching career in the Waseca District and is retiring after 36 years. She was one of the masters of ceremony along with Froehle, for the banquet.

She quoted Abraham Lincoln: “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

“Remember attitude is always a choice, look for positives in life, choose to be happy,” Simmons said.

Simmons, Borneke, Kim Miller and Froehle performed a song that is done every year at the banquet but with new words. The song was about retirement and what they look forward to.

Barb Olson, part of the Waseca district for the past 23 years, decided it is time to move on, though it was a difficult decision.

“I’ve always been so proud to be a part of the Waseca School District,” Olson said.

Dave Prins has been in the district for 28 years and will be semi-retiring. He will still be substituting and instructing behind the wheel. Teamwork and family is what he thinks Waseca is all about, based on what the previous teachers said.

“As a teacher I had two goals,” Prins said. “To prepare young men and women for life and to love and enjoy the sport that you’re in.”

Deb Vetter has been in the district the longest out of the 13 retiring staff this year. She has been in the district for 40 years in various roles.

“The most important is living a life (with an) attitude of gratitude,” Vetter said.

This is something that she, along with other teachers at Waseca Intermediate School, teach the students.

“We are blessed in our district and I thank you,” Vetter said.

Each staff member retiring received a school bell that was handed out by School Board members and Superintendent Tom Lee.

Awards were also given out at the banquet.

A friend of education award was given to Tim Anderson. Tim came to Waseca when his son, Seth Anderson, the boys varsity basketball coach, started teaching at WIS. Tim is a substitute teacher and also helps coach under his son.

“As a coach, he comes to lunch every day,” Jake Nelson said. “Tim, we appreciate you.”

“The best job in the world is being a parent, the second best job in the world is being an educator. You’re the reason that Waseca is so awesome,” Tim said looking to the district staff.

Another award given out was Support Staff of the Year. This award was given to Halvorson from the high school. Sydney Piras and Christine Meeks introduced the faculty member and her accomplishments.

Halvorson has been at the WJSHS the longest out of all of the staff there currently. She is the person to send out transcripts, paperwork and takes care of the sugar needs in the offices.

Piras made a point to share that Halvorson has a typewriter that she uses to write on the student drivers cards they need.

“She has the ability to do five different tasks all with a smile on her face,” Piras said. “… Everyone absolutely loves her and adores her and she will be missed.”

“I was so surprised … this is really special to me,” Halvorson said.

Teacher of the Year Michele Priebe was also recognized at the banquet. Priebe received the district Teacher of the Year award back in November. She is a special education teacher at WIS.

“Michele is awesome and has so much love for each kid she works with,” Simmons said.

Simmons and McKay shared some closing words before the banquet was over.

“What a fantastic representation we have here tonight,” Simmons said in closing. “There are some huge shoes to fill, lots of jobs to fill.”

“Be proud of what you do for the Waseca Public Schools,” McKay said.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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