Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Becky Christofferson
Pine Bluffs Post 

Familiar faces leave LCSD No. 2

 

Becky Christofferson/Pine Bluffs Post

The Laramie County School District No. 2 (LCSD #2) lost four educators, Sue Maxted, Kathleen Lyon and Tom and Sue Watson, in May due to retirement. The four were recognized for their continued support of LCSD #2 in May.

Forty-two years have passed since Lyon joined the district, teaching at the Albin Elementary School.

"I taught at Albin for 29 years as a classroom teacher," Lyon said. "I taught all grades and also taught junior high reading."

A title one position opened up in 2003 at the Pine Bluffs Elementary School, where Lyon was told she would fit in perfect since she knew all the grade levels. In 2014, Lyon was then transferred to the Burns Elementary School in the title one position.

Since Lyon had the privilege of teaching at different grade levels as well as in the title one position, she says the time went by quickly. "I actually didn't realize it had been that long until I saw a former student who was in his fifties," Lyon said. "I was always doing something different it seemed, so I was never doing the same thing over and over."

Lyon said there were many changes that occurred during her 42 years in the district. "There was no physical education program and there was only one telephone in the whole school in the office," she said describing when she first started in 1974. However, she was the first teacher to gain Internet access in her room when it was installed in Albin.

Lyon kept up with continuing education over the years to remain familiar with the newest standards and expectations. She received a Master's in Education from the University of Wyoming.

Her favorite part of teaching as become the aspect she has missed the most since retiring. "I loved the astounding look on the student's face when they finally got something, how their faces just lit up," Lyon said. She said she also misses the students' smiles and hugs.

"I didn't teach for a living, I am a teacher. I loved it. Working with the people and kids in LCSD #2 was absolutely fantastic."

She is however, glad that she doesn't have to attend any more meetings, which to her, increased every year. Lyon did state she saw former student's children go through the system. "I also saw some of my students become my bosses as they became members of the school board."

Even though Lyon retired in May, she has already been seen at the school, substituting when needed.

Tom and Sue Watson are enjoying their new chapter of their lives since retiring in May. This new chapter gives them the ability to travel and work on home projects. They have also been spending more time with family.

"Family time is the best time and ours has grown in the recent few years," Sue explained. "Our family celebrated two weddings and a new grand baby this summer. We love spending time with Kaelin, her husband, Jared and our grandchildren Warren and Hannah; John and his wife Arianna; and Ellen and her husband, Mike."

Although settling into this new chapter is quite different than the one they left behind. "We can't believe we are retired. The years have gone by in a blink of an eye," Sue said. The couple said that every major news story or life event that has happened in the last 37 years is somehow connected to Pine Bluffs Elementary.

"We were at school and witnessed the Challenger explosion on television. We learned about Columbine, the assassination attempt on President Reagan, and 9/11 at school," Sue elaborated. "We have attended funerals of coworkers and students. Returning to school was so difficult after each loss of our own parent. We have been through some very difficult times at the school, but oh so much joy."

Being the daughter of a Air Force man, Sue attended nine schools by her senior year in high school as she graduated from Broomfield High School in Broomfield, Colo., ,in 1975. From there, she went on to the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo.

"I have always loved school. I think I became a teacher because I was excited about learning," Sue said. "I tried to pass on my excitement and enthusiasm for learning to my students." Watson continued saying that whenever she would start a new book to read to her class, she would tell them it was "her favorite".

Sue's first teaching assignment was fourth grade, but over the years has also taught first, second and third grades. She earned her Masters degree from Leslie University in 1997.

Tom, also a Colorado native, grew up in Arvada and graduated in 1974. He played football at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., and then on to wrestle for Dodge City Junior College in Dodge City, Kan.

While Tom didn't personally like everything about school growing up, he said he knew that from the third or fourth grade, that he wanted to coach football and teach physical education. Tom left Kansas for Wyoming to finish his degree at the University of Wyoming, graduating in December of 1979. Before finding a full-time position within the district, Tom was a substitute teacher in Cheyenne, but in the fall of 80, was hired by the district to teach driver's education and elementary physical education for both Pine Bluffs and Albin.

"I always say that we were a family that wore many colors because Tom has coached athletes from Pine Bluffs, Burns, and the combined Burns / Pine Bluffs wrestlers," Sue said. That very first year saw Tom out on the volleyball court coaching junior high volleyball in Pine Bluffs. He later would go on to coach football, wresting and track. He has been both an assistant and the head coach. He would also become a "T-Bird" as he coached varsity football and wrestling for East High School in Cheyenne.

Not only was Tom an educator and coach, he spent numerous hours during the summer in the Pine Bluffs weight room and was the Summer Strength and Conditioning Coach at East as well. Tom earned his Master's degree from Walden University in 2009.

"Our children were each born on a school day and how excited we were when each one started kindergarten and could come to work with Mom and Dad," Sue stated.

She continued to say that no two days were the same and it would always surprise her with how unpredictable life at school could be.

"Students have made us laugh until we cried, broke our hearts when they came to school suffering," Sue explained. "I knew I wasn't the best teacher for every student, but for some, I was their best chance at a good day so I worked hard to the best job I could do."

This is the first fall since 1962 that Sue hasn't attended school either as a student or a teacher. "We have had the privilege to work with wonderful teachers and staff throughout our years in LCSD #2," she said.

Beginning in August of 1988, Maxted became the elementary school counselor for students kindergarten through sixth grades at PBES as well as the counselor for students at Albin for grades kindergarten through 12th.

After 28 years of being in education, Maxted decided it was time to leave the classroom. "I absolutely love working in LCSD No. 2 and was very invested in the success of the school and each and every student," Maxted said. "I just felt that the timing was right with the demolition of the old elementary and so that I could spend more time with my parents who still live in Kimball."

Maxted first taught at a small rural school northwest of Kearney, Neb., with 18 students from grades third through sixth. She was then a teacher in Morrill, Neb., for five years. After being in the classroom for seven years, Maxted went back to school for her counseling degree.

"After I had several students with serious health and emotional issues, which I felt unprepared to deal with, I chose to return KSC for my counseling degree," Maxted explained. "I think the issues many students deal with have increased in frequency and intensity and the need for school counselors has grown."

She earned her Master's Degree in school counseling for grades kindergarten through 12th at Kearney State College, now University of Nebraska at Kearney. She also has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with a Middle School Endorsement in math and science. While she was in graduate school, Maxted was able to work for a year as a graduate assistant in the counseling and school psychology department.

Going into education was always about the students for Maxted. "I loved seeing the "light bulbs" go on as a classroom teacher and as a counselor. It was very fulfilling to see students who had struggled, learn to solve their own problems and make better decisions. I have been blessed to see "my" students go on to success in junior and high school." With the graduating class of 2016, Maxted saw former students' children graduate.

Maxted wasn't just a counselor or a teacher during her years at LCSD # 2. She also was part of the ALEX after-school program in Pine Bluffs for the last three years.

"It made for long days, but I really enjoyed the program," Maxted continued. "It was fun to interact with the kids in a different manner." Being involved in the program, Maxted was able to read with students, do the occasional crafts, played board and card games as well as helped with homework and work on math facts.

Maxted helped on both the PBES and Albin Elementary's "Building Intervention Team" and was the chairperson for many years. The team would provide assistance to teachers when students were struggling academically or with the student's behavior.

Even though she felt retirement was the right choice for her, it was also a difficult decision. "I will miss daily interactions with the kids and teachers."

Missing those interactions, Maxted has already subbed at the school. "I have been helping cover for Lisa Gilbert in the mornings, so I have been able to stay in touch with the kids and staff. I have also subbed at the high school and elementary. It was really fun to see those high school kids that I had in elementary."

Retirement brings a sense of freedom to Maxted who plans to use it in a variety of ways including subbing, spending time with her parents, traveling, reading and working in her flowers to the many house projects she has at home. She will still help with volleyball and track meets. "These past two months have sped by, so I'm not worried about being bored, that's for sure!"

 

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