By Jef Rietsma
Vicksburg Community Schools will say goodbye to nine retiring employees at the end of the school year. They include:
Kathy Forsythe, who has spent 18 years at VHS and previously subbed for several years in the district. Forsythe’s most-recent position is 10th and 11th grade English. Forsythe started in the district as a special-education teacher and gradually moved into full-time English. “It was a great way to start because I was able to work with many of my co-workers and I learned so much from them. They are amazing teachers,” she said. Forsythe is editor of South County News.
Linda VanderStraaten is a 22-year employee retiring as transportation administrative assistant at the bus garage. VanderStraaten trained three bus directors in her time at VCS. and was the friendly voice familiar to Vicksburg families when they contacted the transportation department. District officials noted VanderStraaten was the department’s guardian who looked out for everyone, with hugs for all who needed one and a contagious laugh that made everyone feel at home.
Margo Staunton is completing a decade of employment with VCS. Her most-recent position was secondary school library media specialist. Staunton’s work through the years has been at VMS and VHS.
Jane Herbener is retiring as fourth-grade teacher at Tobey Elementary. She has spent all 33 years of her VCS career at Tobey. Herbener has taught every grade except second at Tobey. A Tobey icon, Herbener is now teaching the second generation of Tobey Tigers – many of her current students’ parents were in her class. Herbener said she loves fourth grade because kids unlock their love of reading and begin to make connections with the world.
Lisa Harbour is retiring after teaching eighth-grade science for 24 years, and sixth-grade design and modeling the last five. Harbour, Science Night coordinator, said she has given 100 percent of herself to her students for the past 24 years. “I will need to reinvent myself as my job has been my life,” she said. “I will continue to take sports photos for VHS.”
Stephanie Mallery is a 25-year employee of VCS. Most recently, she has served as the district’s instructional coach and its ELA coordinator. Her work has placed her at Indian Lake Elementary, Sunset Lake Elementary, Tobey Elementary and the district’s administration building. “For the last 25 years, VCS has been my home away from home. Thank you to the many VCS educators, administrators and mentors who have supported me for the last 25 years and provided me with opportunities, tools and training to do my job well,” Mallery said. “While the decision to retire was difficult, I am so excited to spend additional time with my family and friends, and explore exciting, new opportunities.”
Linda Colter has been with the district 17 years. She is evening custodian at VHS, where she has spent her entire VCS career. Colter said she is excited to catch up on reading and tackling projects around the house.
Kathy Brandt has spent 26 years with VCS and is retiring as Indian Lake Library Aide. She enjoyed the position, especially working with Terri Negri. She found working with children enriching and fulfilling, especially when they first realize they love to read! She looks forward to some new adventures. She and her husband, Robert, enjoy music. Kathy also enjoys hiking, birding, kayaking, her granddaughters and their little cabin up north.
Terri Negri is another longtime employee. She has been with VCS 35 years, serving as elementary-school librarian at all three elementary buildings.
Superintendent Keevin O’Neill said the district is grateful to the retiring employees for their commitment to the district’s students.
“I want to thank all our VCS retirees for their service, dedication and commitment to our precious students and community over the years. We refer to our staff as our VCS family and they will always be a part of our cherished VCS family. They will be missed and I hope retirement is all they imagined it to be.”