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

By Gary Collins
Pine Bluffs Post 

Six LCSD2 employees retire


Here are profiles of six employees who recently retired from Laramie County School District #2.

Deidre Hanson is retiring as school nurse after 24 years at Albin Elementary, Albin High School, when it existed, and the Pine Bluffs Schools.

“Just at school, I also work at the hospital. I’m going to continue to work at the hospital,” Hanson said.

In April, Hanson was recognized as Wyoming’s America’ Greatest School Nurse. While she did not claim the national title, she felt incredibly honored that the staff at Pine Bluffs felt strongly enough about her to nominate her.

“Deidre is one of the best school nurses I have had the opportunity to work with and I feel she greatly deserves this recognition,” said Andrea Verosky, PBES principal.

“I feel really honored. My principal initiated this, and my colleagues nominated me. I’m very pleased. It’s special. I didn’t know anything about and all of a sudden I get a phone call that said you’re the Wyoming representative,” Hanson said.

Hanson moved, with her family, to Albin in the fall of 1975, where Mr. Hanson farms and ranches and he’s also the rural mail carrier for Albin. His grandfather homesteaded here. Hanson began to work part-time at the Cheyenne hospital in 1976.

“I worked at the hospital for several years, part time. We had started our family. As our children got older, I decided I probably ought to be closer to home. I was traveling a hundred miles a day. The school nurse position became available and I thought, well I’ll try it. The rest is history. I stayed,” Hanson said.

For Hanson, the job of school nurse is much more than taking temperatures and applying bandages to boo boos and ouchies.

“The school nurse, really, to me, honestly we monitor the health and well being of the students, the staff. We’re a resource for those kids who have high needs. I think the school nurse is a liaison with the parents, helping them navigate the educational system and access the medical system, It’s been really beneficial that I have had contact with the hospital because I’ve known how or been able to get help for some of our kids who probably wouldn’t have had an easy way of doing it, because I have a connection with it,” Hanson said.

Retirement for Hanson, who is as cheerful as you could hope someone to be, does not mean slowing down.

“Don’t let any grass grow under your feet,” Hanson said. “Keep busy.”

Burns Elementary School teacher Christine Allen received recognition for twenty years of service at the district end of the year ceremony held at Pine bluffs High School Thursday May 25.

In addition, she also received her clock from Jon Abrams, district superintendent upon her retirement.

The clocks were given to all the retirees so, in the words of Abrams they can remind themselves daily of when they do not have to get up in the morning.

“I’ve worked for LCSD#2 for 20 years, all at Burns Elementary, 6 years teaching 3rd grade and 14 years teaching 1st grade. I’ve driven from Cheyenne, or near Cheyenne all those years because I love the small district and the the schools,” Allen said.

Allen intends to spend time settling into her new home with her husband, with whom she also is looking forward to spending more time. Children and grandchildren are on that list, also, as well as traveling and trying her hand writing children’s books.

“I would like to volunteer in the schools, libraries, or maybe Barnes & Noble to help with reading, read to the children and share my love of children’s books!,” Allen said.

She loved working with the smaller classes that district two afforded. She felt as if she really belonged. Having served on many district committees over the years gave Allen a feeling as she had a voice in the decisions affecting her students. She will miss her “kids” and co-workers most of all.

“I will miss my coworkers who work to exhaustion to bring learning to life! Every one of the teachers I have worked with are so involved in ensuring their students learn in the best way possible, and enjoy doing it,” Allen said. “I’ll miss the kiddos the most! They have been “my kids” and never will stop being “my kids!”. I keep in touch with many of my past students (and their parents as well, who become my dear friends, too). I have learned so much through teaching and I absolutely love looking at the world through my children’s eyes!”

“You bet, man. You bet,” said Bernie Stradley when asked if he was looking forward to retirement.

“Well, I’m going to spend a lot of time with my family and am trying to get reacquainted with my fly rod,” Stradley said. “I’m going to fly fish the North Platte River. . .I used to hunt a lot and I haven’t hunted, what, the last three years. I have time to get back into that, too. I can do everything I used to do, I just don’t do as much and I don’t it as fast.”

Stradley had been with the district for 23 years at Burns Jr./Sr. High School as a para-educator and job coach.

“A para-educator is like a teaching assistant. I do a lot of one on one, and tutoring of students with special needs. It’s strictly with students with special needs,” Stradley said.

Stradley and his family moved to district one in 1993 from Rawlins when his wife was transferred. They eschewed the district one schools for the schools in Burns.

“So we took them out there and I decided already I was going to get into education somehow. So I substituted in district two for two days and then they offered me a job as a para. The reason I took it is because I knew I could spend the next twelve years with my kids everyday, driving them to school, driving them home. Being involved in their lives as much as possible,” Stradley said.

The Stradleys intend to also spend time on a piece of land they own in the mountains of New Mexico. They are going to build a cabin for summer vacations. The property has a small river running through it.

When asked what he will miss about his time with the district, Stradley cites the people.

“Oh, criminy. Well, the students and the staff. It’s the people. Buildings come and go, but the people are pretty unique. I have gotten on really well with the students. The students have taught me. That taught me patience and compassion. I’ve taught them too, but they’ve taught me just as much I ever taught them. I’m amazed at the quality of the staff. I was a job coach at all three high schools at one time and all the personnel they were just as dedicated and qualified and I’ll miss them. I’ll miss the people, students and staff both,” Stradley said.

Having spent 27 years in the Laramie County School District No. 2, Donna Peters will not be at her secretarial desk this coming fall.

She began as the TI-IN Facilitator at Albin High School.

“This was a program through satellite on TV where teachers in San Antonio, Texas that taught various courses that small schools could not afford to offer such as foreign languages, psychology/sociology, astronomy/marine science, etc.,” Peters said.

After several years in that position Peters was hired for the secretarial position at Albin High School.

“I have been in a secretarial position ever since,” Peters said.

After the high school closed in Albin she worked at the elementary school for a few years before transferring to Burns Jr./Sr. High School.

“After 7 years, the secretary job at Albin Elementary opened up and I ‘came back home,’” Peters said.

Peters is looking forward to calling her time her own in retirement.

“In retirement, I am excited for more grand baby time, family time, projects at home, and basically to do what I want to on any given day!,” Peters said.

While she is happy to retire, Peters will miss the district and the people.

“Working for this district has been a wonderful experience and I will greatly miss the students, teachers and staff and all the other personnel across the district that I come into contact with!,” Peters said.

After six years as a consultant the Wyoming Department of Education and running her own consulting firm, Sue Stevens returned to LCSD No.2 in 2006.

“After 6 years of constant travel, I came back to the district as an elementary principal at both Pine Bluffs Elementary and Albin Elementary,” Stevens said.

Stevens received recognition for 30 years of service at the district end of the year ceremony held at Pine bluffs High School Thursday May 25.

She was also recognized upon her retirement from the district.

“I started in the district in 1981 as a junior high English and reading teacher. 5 years later, I moved to the elementary school and taught mostly 3rd and 1st grades for about 11 years. I also was the first curriculum coordinator the district had, starting in 1994 and continuing in that capacity until 2000. Some of those years, I job shared as teacher so part of my day was spent teaching and part was spent working on curriculum,” Stevens said.

After leaving the department of education, which involved, in her words, “constant travel,” Stevens was hired as the elementary principal at both the Albin and Pine Bluffs Elementary Schools.

“ Once again, I split my time between principal at Pine Bluffs Elementary and curriculum. This year, I have served strictly in the role of curriculum coordinator,” Stevens said.

In retirement, Stevens plans to do some consulting on a limited bassi, helping districts with curriculum and assessment development. She is also looking forward to personal time, time with family and the completion of the new elementary school in Pine Bluffs.

“I am looking forward to spending more time at our lake home, working on hobbies, and spending more time with family,” Stevens said. “I am very excited to see the new elementary school in Pine Bluffs. We have been working on that since I became principal in 2006 and it is finally coming to fruition!”

Though she began her teaching career, after college, in Hershey, Neb., Mary Odean had spent the past 17 years teaching kindergarten at Burns Elementary School.

She taught at Hershey for two years before landing a job at a country school closer to her home where she taught kindergarten through third grade. She was the music, art and PE teacher along with being the playground supervisor, janitor and cook.

“A year later, our little family (three children and husband, Kerry and I) were offered the chance to move closer to his job with the Union Pacific Railroad in Cheyenne. We settled in Pine Bluffs where I substituted for many years,” Odean said.

During this time Odean felt that her four children needed a more consistent schedule. In that frame of mind she stepped away from substitute teaching and entered the banking field.

“The ten years I spent at Farmer’s State Bank and the Bushnell Bank allowed me the flexibility I needed, but I always missed my calling: teaching,” Odean said.

In 2000, Odean decided to go back to substitute teaching. After a few months of this, Vicki Steege asked Odean if she would take her position as Steege’s health was limiting her ability to perform her duty.

“After going through the proper protocol to be hired as her replacement, I have been a kindergarten teacher at Burns Elementary ever since,” Odean said.

She cites her years of teaching as fulfilling, watching her kindergarteners grow through graduation and still appreciates the hugs from students big and small.

“The parents of my students also have been a blessing to me by lending a hand, helping in the classroom and supporting me over the years,” Odean said. “I cherish the years I have spent teaching at Burns Elementary School and I thank each and every student and fellow teachers for helping me make my calling a success.”


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