Board of Education Honors Retiring Teachers

By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor

Several retiring teachers were honored by the Willard City Schools Board of Education at its May meeting. Superintendent Jeff Ritz said each of them will be missed.

Nancy Daniel is retiring after 35 years of teaching. She told board members she appreciated the chance to spend all 35 years in the Willard City Schools teaching at various grade levels.

"I appreciate the opportunity to be able to do what I truly love to do," Daniel said. "I'm happy that I was able to do it."

Tracy Stephens is the principal at Central Elementary School where Daniel was teaching.

"She moved into Central when Greenfield closed," Stephens said. "She has brought a lot of great things for kids. She's a nice leader for kindergarten. She's going to be truly missed on that team."

Kathy Harter spent her entire career in the same classroom at Richmond Elementary School, according to Ritz.

Harter also expressed her appreciation for the chance to spend her entire 30-year career in the Willard City Schools.

"I never in a million years thought I would spend 30 years in Willard," Harter said. "It did become my home. I always believed teaching was my calling. So, it's truly been a rewarding experience."

Kathryn Allen, principal at Richmond Elementary School, said Harter was steadfast and calm.

"She doesn't get really worked up," Allen pointed out. "She is just a very consistent, incredibly effective teacher. So kind. So nurturing. She really gets to the bottom of it with her kids."

Susan Moore is retiring from Willard High School. Ritz said they became very good friends with her while a principal at Willard High School.

"I feel very honored to have spent almost my whole career in Willard," Moore said. "I think that one of the things that I appreciate the most is the support that teachers get, not only from our administrators and from the board. I had a teacher walk up to me and thank me for the impact I have had on her.

"As teachers, we don't think about that," Moore said. "We think about the impact we have on kids. So I started thinking about the impact other people have had on me. I honestly don't think I have ever asked for anything that has been denied me in this district. I think that's indicative of the kind of support we have in the community."

Chris Schaaf, principal at Willard High School said Moore has done so much in that building.

"She does so many things even outside the classroom with our kids," he noted. "She's just a positive person that wants our kids to have school spirit. She does all those things that I don't know who's going to take her place in those kinds of roles in our building next year. I am going to miss that."

Peggy Opatken, and her husband Tim Opatken, were also retiring. Tim was not able to be at the board meeting, but Peggy spoke about her time in the Willard City Schools.

"I've been here 15 years," Opatken said. "I already had half of my career finished. I came here and we brought our kids. I went from teaching high school to seventh and eighth.

"I've loved it here," she added. "Our kids went through the school system."

Opatken talked about her husband, Tim. "He's the reason we came here. He came for football, and we brought our family here. It's just been really great."

Mandy Polachek is principal over Willard Middle School where Opatken has taught.

"Even though she is retiring, I don't see Peggy slowing down at all," Polachek said. "It's always amazing to me how much Peggy does outside the classroom, doing our middle school dances. She organizes the talent show. She runs our student council. Then you find out she's active in the church."

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