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Prescott schools bid farewell to 13 staffers

Luann Foster1 / 13
Cathy Herold2 / 13
Bonnie Jones-Witthuhn3 / 13
April Loutsch4 / 13
Sandy Lubich5 / 13
Nancy Marx6 / 13
Linda Payton7 / 13
Pamela Pittman8 / 13
Mary St. John9 / 13
Karl Sakschek10 / 13
Donna Watterson11 / 13
Debbie Whipkey12 / 13
Patricia Pederson13 / 13

PRESCOTT -- Thirteen Prescott School District employees retired at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. What will they do in retirement? What are their favorite memories? What will they miss most? Find out below.

Special education paraprofessional Patricia Pederson did not fill out the questionnaire.

Luann Foster

Position/school: I began at Malone Elementary teaching first grade for one year. I then moved to fifth grade for 13 years and have taught kindergarten for the last 20 years.

Did you coach or advise a club? I coached seventh grade volleyball for approximately five years.

Years with the district: I have taught for 34 years in the Prescott School District.

Retirement date: June 30

What will you miss the most? I will miss the children and the dedicated colleagues that I have worked with at Malone.

What was the best part of your job? Working with these 5- and 6-year-olds who are so eager and excited to learn has been the best part of my job. I also have had a wonderful team of teachers to share ideas with.

What was the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of the job is keeping up with the changing requirements (often directed by the state) of curriculum and assessments.

Retirement plans: I plan to spend more time volunteering, relaxing with a favorite book, and getting caught up on scrapbooking projects. My husband Craig (who retired last year) and I will be able to follow our son Ryan in his sports activities. I especially look forward to taking trips to both the east and west coasts where two of our sons and their families live. We hope to be able to spend more time with our 9-month-old grandson, Helix.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? I am proud of earning a master’s degree while continuing to teach and have taken additional classes to keep up with the changes in education – all to better meet the needs of the students.

What is your favorite memory? There are so many wonderful memories! I have enjoyed hearing the funny stories of the 5-year-olds and watching them grow within a very short nine months. It is always bittersweet to see them receive their diplomas at kindergarten graduation. I am proud and excited to see them move on to first grade but miss them as they have become part of my heart.

Cathy Herold

Position/school: Special Education/Reading Teacher, Prescott School District

Did you coach or advise a club? High School Forensics Team for three years.

Years with the district: 29 years

Retirement date: June 9

What will you miss the most? The opportunity to experience the energy and talents of students, staff and parents.

What was the best part of your job? I am grateful for all the really wonderful students, staff and parents that I have met and worked with over the years. The best part for me is running into former students in my community. They still know me and will share a memory they have about me.

What was the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of my job is leaving a job that I love.

Retirement plans: I look forward to new challenges as they reveal themselves to me. I hope to have time to volunteer in my community.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I am most proud of any difference I might have made in someone’s life.

What is your favorite memory? My favorite memory is watching students graduate from high school. What an exciting and awesome moment for them! It’s a culmination of many years of hard work for the student and for all those who supported that student.

Bonnie Jones-Witthuhn

Position/school: English teacher, high school

Did you coach or advise a club? I was the National Honor Society Adviser for eight years and assisted with forensics for one year.

Years with the district: 15 years

Retirement date: June 9

What will you miss the most? The moments when students understand a complex piece of literature, their laughter and their honest humanity.

What was the best part of your job? The students and the changing curriculum.

What was the most challenging part of your job? Paper work that never ends.

Retirement plans: Traveling to Iceland and Poland, golfing with my husband and others, staying more often and longer at our lake home, volunteering in my community, taking a film class and reading all of the books I keep finding but stacking up in a pile in my study.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Having three careers and enjoying all of them. But in education, bringing out of students their insights and creative thinking.

What is your favorite memory? Not one but so many of students who bring their energy and enthusiasm into a teacher's room. How lucky we are!

April Loutsch

Position: Bus driver

Years with the district: 27

Retirement date: March 18

What will you miss the most? The kids and co-workers and my boss Tim Rundquist. He is the best boss anyone could ask for. He needs to be recognized as a wonderful, wonderful person.

What was the best part of your job? It was a good job as a mother because I was able to be home during the day when they were little.

What was the most challenging part of your job? Winter weather driving. My route had a lot of hills.

Retirement plans: I moved up north with my husband by Hayward. I can dedicate time to my flowers, 4-wheeling and hobbies. I’d like to volunteer.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Listening to kids and becoming close, to give advice and direction if they were having a bad day.

What is your favorite memory? Memories of watching kids who were so scared the first day of kindergarten grow and being invited to their weddings and graduations.

Sandra Lubich

Position/school: Administrative Assistant to Mr. Vortherms, principal of the High School, although in my 25 years I have had the pleasure of working in different departments.

Years with the district: 25 years

Retirement: June 30

What will you miss the most? The great staff and wonderful students in the Prescott School District.

What was the best part of your job? Being able to work with the best teachers and staff. Being part of the community in Prescott.

What was the most challenging part of your job? Remembering the students’ names.

Retirement plans: Enjoy life with my husband, children and grandchildren, gardening, reading and camping.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? When I was working as a Special Education Administrative Assistant, under Stephanie Hubbard, the department had an audit. The department was told by the auditors that we had one of the top 10 best audits in the state. I was really proud of the accomplishment of our department that year.

What is your favorite memory? Working with students and years later they come up to you and say, “I remember you, you helped me read!” Also, some of the dumb mistakes I made over the intercom: mispronouncing students’ names, or congratulating Mr. Peterson, High School Guidance Counselor, over the intercom for getting the “Senior Citizen of the Year” award, when he only just won the “Citizen of the Year” award. I say, he was a great sport. Thanks for all the great memories at the Prescott School District.

Nancy Marx

Position/school: Accounting at the District Office

Years with the district: 30

Retirement date: Aug. 31

What will you miss the most? I will miss my coworkers. I have worked with Donna Most and Deb Huppert over 25 years. They are family. I have also had great superintendents who have become good friends.

What was the best part of your job? Our District office has always been a team. We have worked together to get the job done without problems or drama between us.

What was the most challenging part of your job? Changing with the State of Wisconsin and DPI (Department of Public Instruction) requirements. The reporting and documentation have increased tri-fold.

Retirement plans: I would like to travel, spend more time at the cabin, be around for my family and volunteer.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Each year, we are audited. We have always had high praise from our auditors with very little corrections.

What is your favorite memory? I have a lifetime of memories. We have had many laughs over the years at some of the crazy things that have happened.

Linda Payton

Position/school: I am a Special Education teacher at Prescott Middles School. My background is teaching students with Emotional Behavioral Disabilities but the last three years I have been cross categorical and co-taught math and language arts.

Years with the district: 16 years in Prescott as a teacher and four years in River Falls as Emotional Behavior Disability program assistant.

Retirement date: June 9

What will you miss the most? I love my colleagues but I will really miss the kids. I will actually miss the challenge of teaching all students.

What was the best part of your job? Meeting students that I had worked with in Middle School and hearing about their lives after graduation. Some of them it was telling me with great pride they had earned their GED. Also seeing those moments when students have met a goal we had worked on all year. A student as an eighth grader getting 100 AR reading points when in six th grade they struggled to get any AR points.

What was the most challenging part of your job? Inspiring bright young people to care about school, their education and how that relates to their future.

Retirement plans: When I was in high school I wanted to study art, but I was really good in math and science. Now I am finally going to study art. I may be the next Grandma Moses, who didn’t paint until she was 78 years old. I also hope to do lots of traveling throughout the world and finally get overseas.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I started school as a single mother of three daughters, and feel it was an accomplishment to finish school. From the time that I graduated there was 10 years before I got a teaching job. There are many times I stop and think, “I am really a teacher.” I take great pride in being a part of this profession.

What is your favorite memory? I think every great memory I have is either the first day of school. Planning and having everything ready in my classroom, and just being so excited in seeing the students after a summer break. I also love the last day of school. All the teachers are out on the sidewalk giving students hugs, signing their yearbooks and telling them to have a great summer. They climb on the bus and we all stand out there and wave goodbye. When we walk back into the building Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out for Summer” is playing on the PA system. There is so much that happens between those two days, many memorable days. It is hard to believe this will be my last day in just a matter of days.

Pamela Pittman

Position/school: I began my career teaching third grade. After eight years, I moved to first grade and stayed there for 12 years. I ended my career by teaching third grade for another four years, all at Malone Elementary.

Years with the district: 24

Retirement date: June 9

What will you miss the most? I will miss being in the classroom teaching my students and watching them as they gain confidence in themselves through their academic achievements and grow as individuals throughout the school year. I have been blessed to work with a group of extremely dedicated and talented teachers and I will miss seeing them on a daily basis as well.

What was the best part of your job? The best part of my job, of course, was being with my students.

What was the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of my job is trying to meet the needs of every student -- elevating those that need extra support and challenging those who are ready to fly.

Retirement plans: My future plans include becoming a real estate agent, spending more time with my family and friends and traveling.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? It is difficult to identify a single accomplishment, but overall I found it very gratifying to see students making progress in subjects that had once been a challenge for them, particularly in reading.

What is your favorite memory? My favorite memory would be the beginning of each new school year. It is an energizing time because everyone is recharged after summer break and ready to begin a new school year. Students are excited to reconnect with their friends, meet their teacher, begin a new routine and of course use their brand-new school supplies!

Karl Sakschek

Position/school: Art teacher, Malone Elementary, Prescott Middle School and Prescott High School

Did you coach or advise a club? Coached girls basketball for one year.

Years with the district: 36 years

Retirement date: June 9

What will you miss the most? The students and their accomplishments.

What was the best part of your job? Working with students on once in a lifetime works of art.

What was the most challenging part of your job? Changes in technology.

Retirement plans: Everything possible.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Seeing students’ faces as they accomplish great things that they never thought they could do.

What is your favorite memory? Just hearing back from students years later reminiscing on the great things we did in class.

Mary St. John

Position/school: Family & Consumer/Health Educator at Prescott High School

Years with the district: 25 years

Retirement date: June 9

What will you miss the most? Seeing students able to use the course information in their lives. The creativity of students.

What was the best part of your job? I enjoyed the topics I taught and relating information to real life experiences.

What was the most challenging part of your job? Getting some students to care about their work.

Retirement plans: Gardening, travel, quilting, crochet, spending more time with our grandchild.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Teaching two high school classes transcripted for college credit through CVTC.

What is your favorite memory? Hearing from students how the computerized baby “ruined their weekend” and how their parents made sure the experience was a great learning tool.

Donna Watterson

Position/school: Executive assistant, district office

Years with the district: 25 years

Retirement date: June 30

What will you miss the most? The people here. They are like my second family.

What was the best part of your job? Handling many things at once and interacting with people. Never a day the same, two days in a row.

What was the most challenging part of your job? All the reports that the State of Wisconsin keeps changing.

Retirement plans: My daughter just had a baby boy and I will be babysitting for her when she goes back to work.

What is your favorite memory? There are too many to list.

Debbie Whipkey

Position/school: I have been a kindergarten teacher at Malone Elementary School.

Did you coach or advise a club? I was a middle school cheerleader advisor for a few years.

Years with the district: 40 years

Retirement date: June 9

What will you miss the most? I will miss spending each day with the children and my colleagues.

What was the best part of your job? For the last 40 years, I have been able to watch children make new friends, get excited as they learn new things, become more independent and enjoy learning and school.

What was the most challenging part of your job? Change continues to be challenging…half day kindergarten to full day kindergarten, changing rooms, working with new colleagues and administrators over the years, new curriculum and standards, different duties and responsibilities, more assessments, and new children each year.

Retirement plans: I look forward to spending more time with friends and family, especially my daughters, Lindsay and Erin, and my granddaughters, Ellie and Katelyn. I will enjoy more time to walk, swim, read, volunteer and travel.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I am proud of earning my master’s degree while teaching and having two daughters in elementary school. I am also proud of my daughters who both have 4-year degrees and one with a master’s degree.

What is your favorite memory? I have many great memories while teaching kindergarten. It has been fun and rewarding to watch all my kindergarten children graduate each spring for the last 40 years. I have also heard many fun comments and stories as well.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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