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School division pays tribute 329 years of experience retiring from Fort La Bosse

329 years of experience retiring from Fort La Bosse


Fort La Bosse School Division followed a tradition that began 30 years ago, to show appreciation to teachers, support staff, division staff, and school board members for years of service and to recognize those retiring from FLB.

Wednesday evening, Jun. 7 the yearend recognition night and social was held in Pipestone Hall; Superintendant Barry Pitz, in opening comments said, “I am very delighted to be here every year to honour and recognize our greatest asset, our employees.”

Following the buffet meal, Deborah Wright, Manitoba Teachers Society rep and retiring teacher, addressed the crowd, explaining how this recognition evening came about. “It was about 30 years ago, the Fort La Bosse board and the local teachers association had a liaison committee ... we discussed was how we could recognize those people who had put many years into their career and those people who were retiring. We came up with the idea of having a recognition dinner. The first one was here, I think, 30 years ago.”

Students from Reston, Taylor Wheelans and Mariah Hamel provided entertainment singing a pop music vocal duet. Grade 7 student Izzy Watt, an up and coming folk talent, accompanied herself with simple guitar music.

Some 30 recipients were listed to receive long-term service pins (10 -35 years). Lorie Garcia was not able to attend, but was due to receive her 35-year pin.

About 20 service pins were awarded - Eleanor Gillander and Brad Rozak were on-hand to receive 30-year recognition.

Special recognition for retiring employees included Judy Dandridge, who served as Student Services Coordinator with the division for 14 years. She was roasted and bid farewell, by speech language pathologists Megan Zalizniak, Airdrie Poole and Kalee Scott, who spoke fondly of Dandridge’s hard work and personality trademarks.

Shelly Cousins will be leaving FLB employ to spend more time on the family farm. She was honoured for her contribution to Elkhorn School by Teresa Sanheim, who said, “We will miss her joy that she radiates.”  

Craig Russell, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees, introduced log-time teacher Dianne Burke, who is retiring this June, after 29 years with FLB. Burke taught 34 years in total, beginning  in Foxwarren, Wawota, Moosomin, then to Elkhorn, Reston, Oak Lake School, VCI and finally Burke taught Virden Junior High, where she primarily worked with the Grade 6 French program. Most recently, her class made a two hour presentation on Canada 150.

Burke recounted some humorous anecdotes to her fellow teachers and members of FLB. She recalled receiving the first Commodore 64 computer for the classroom and said, “Teaching tools have changed a lot. I feel there is more responsibilities with them, now than ever,” referring to the use of the internet for research. Burke had the crowd laughing as she scrolled through the changes she has seen in fashion wear over the years. But, she said, students have not changed, “they want what is true, and right.”

Reston Administrator Dan Kristof introduced teacher Deborah Wright, retiring after 34 years. She, through tearful smiles stated that Reston School has been like a second family.

In preparation for the changes that retirement brings, Wright talked about a neuroscience study she had recently read. The fourth and crowning point was “hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text, better to talk and better yet to touch and have a hug.”

Mary Montgomery Principal Brad Hayward introduced Linda Christianson, retiring teacher after 37 years. He said with humour, “It takes a special kind of person to manage 20 plus students...” as he indicated the amazing way Christianson worked with the very youngest in the school – children full of restless energy, endless questions and stories.

 He said, “Your ability to manage chaos, Linda, is masterful. Your multi-tasking skills, your quiet caring nature...changed those [randomly energetic kids] in a short time into students who, by golly, learned to read.” Having, over the years, had opportunity to discuss broader ideas, outside of classroom issues, Hayward remarked, “I admire the compassion you have for individuals, that every child is first, that you always cheer for the under dog...and your honesty.” Christianson was known for her patience, and her principal of 10 years said, “The greatest power one can display is often simple patience.”

Hayward did, however, take the opportunity to goad Christianson for her oft’ failure to get her attendance in on time, which she explained, with a grin saying, “That’s because, when you teach Kindergarten and Grade 1 and Grade 2 you don’t have to listen to just one story at 8:50 (a.m.), you have to listen to  ... a hundred.”

She taught first at Goulter and then at Mary Montgomery schools. “I will hugely miss all the funny stories, all the smiles, all the hugs and the wonderful, wonderful adults I’ve had the pleasure of working with all these years.”

Christianson has had 40 years of teaching, including three years in The Pas and she stated, “It’s time to pass the torch....”

Christianson is looking forward to substitute teaching, being a full-time grandma, and to golfing. She thanked FLB for giving her “the job of a lifetime.”

In closing the formal celebration, Board Chair Gary Draper said, “I think, in total it comes to about 329 years of experience and dedication that we are losing, at the end of June.”




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