It’s not only students who graduate from Des Moines Public Schools, equipped to be “successful at the next stage of their lives”. Every year a class of retirees moves on too, and this year is no exception – except that their recognition, like ceremonies for 5th graders, 8th graders and high school seniors, had to be modified to fit the times.

Instead of the usual luncheon/reception in their honor, they’ll receive their “golden apples” (such as the one pictured above) in appreciation for their service via courier.

This year’s class numbers more than 50 and represents just over 1,000 years of cumulative public service. That’s a lot to lose in one fell swoop. No wonder they’ll be missed, individually and collectively.

The senior member of the class is Morris Elementary 2nd grade teacher Luanne Sellner with 41 years at DMPS. Her principal, Sherry Amos, had this to say about Sellner: “Luanne is often teaching the children of her former students. I always smile when (she) tells (her) students the first day that (she) hand-picked the smartest, cutest and best behaved students for (her) class.”

Another big hole will be at Goodrell Middle School where the PE teacher for the last 24 years, John Walling, is stepping aside. He’s “a pillar within our community and within our school (who has) left an everlasting legacy of pride on the Eastside and at Goodrell,” said principal Peter LeBlanc. “(John) will always have a place to call home with us and our family. (He) described being the PE Teacher at Goodrell Middle School as (his) dream job and we all share in saying job well done.”

Phillips Elementary 4th grade teacher Wyatt Pugh and his sister-in-law, Lincoln High art teacher Laurie Phillips, have logged almost 60 years in the district. Pugh’s current boss, Phillips principal Kristi Fitzgerald, said “We honestly do not know what we will do without Mr. Pugh.” Lincoln principal Paul Williamson recalled about Phillips that “one of my first memories of Laurie is when she showed me how she did cartwheels in class. A perfect example of how she connected with her students.”

And how about Park Avenue’s Laura Hildreth, who’s been a PA Panther PE teacher for the last 27 years?

“Laura’s passion is to get kids active,” said her principal Dianna Anderson. “She’s an avid bike rider and spends her free time sometimes riding around the neighbor saying hi to her students.”

But it’s not just teachers the district has to replace every year. It takes more than just them.

It takes bus drivers like Ronald Sharp who “cared for his school bus like it was his personal vehicle and took pride in how clean it was every day,” according to DMPS Transportation Director Lashone Mosley.

And chief custodial engineers like Hanawalt’s Thomas Garner who not only kept his building clean and safe but was “always a caring adult to our students who will miss you calling them all ‘Fred’,” was how Hanawalt principal Jolene Liebl put it.

And “lunch ladies” like Bobbie Yaw at North High who’s hanging up her apron after 23 years of DMPS foodservice.

“Bobbi started as a general worker at Weeks Middle School. She loved being around the students and was a second mother to anyone who was in need,” said Nutrition Operations Specialist Ellen Sarlat. “I will really miss the bear hugs I would get from Bobbi when I had the opportunity to visit North.”

The reception for this year’s retirees was originally scheduled for May 6 at Wakonda. Now, like the 2020 graduates, instead of getting together to celebrate one another the 50+ public servants will have to settle for a private home delivery of their hard-earned apples – and a public thank you for their combined millenium in support of the city’s children.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020 DMPS Retirees

  • Sundhild Barrett
  • Linda Bentley
  • Gary Bowman
  • Kimberly Cisna
  • Antionette Courtney
  • Linda Cox
  • Nancy Croy
  • Roberta Deal
  • Nancie Dorrell
  • Karen Doyle
  • Patricia Dunbar
  • Anita Dutta
  • Denise Fechner
  • Vanessa Foelske
  • Wilma Gajdel
  • Thomas Garner
  • Kirby Gilson
  • Margaret Gomez
  • Jane Graham
  • Tina Greene
  • Joseph Green
  • Rhonda Hanesack
  • Laura Hildreth
  • John  Howett
  • Pamela Hutson
  • Celeste Kelling
  • Tamara Kline
  • Garry Knapp
  • Roxanne Lane
  • Tammy  Major
  • Lisa Major-Beeman
  • Dean Martens
  • Barbara Montis
  • Gary Morris
  • Caroline Olsen
  • Judith Pauley
  • Lynn Pavel
  • Laurie Phillips
  • Lori Pope
  • Joanna Pose
  • Wyatt Pugh
  • Shelley Rothmeyer
  • Debra Ryan
  • Luanne Sellner
  • Ronald  Sharp
  • Linda Smith
  • Roseanne Smith
  • Dale Snodgrass
  • Beckie Tanner-Devries
  • Mary Tedore-Salomon
  • John  Walling
  • Bobbi Yaw
  • Ralph Young
Published on