Edmond school's educators retire with more than 100 years of experience

BY NASREEN IQBAL Niqbal@opubco.com Published: May 1, 2013
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— The retirement of five educators at the end of the school year will leave quite a footprint behind at Clegern Elementary School, officials said.

Retiring school counselor Vicki Thorpe, Principal Bill Powell, speech language pathologist Jayme Howell, fifth-grade teacher Diane Paine and librarian Sherry Park have more than a century of combined experience.

A reception is planned for 3:45 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the school, 601 S Jackson. Administrators welcome past and current students and their family members.

“The kids keep on asking me what will happen if they don't get another librarian. They keep on asking me who will read with them,” said Park, who has been a librarian for 28 years. “I keep assuring them that someone will. But they don't like change.”

Park, an Oklahoma City native, received an undergraduate degree in Spanish and a master's degree in library science from the University of Oklahoma.

To make learning an interactive process, she often dresses up as historical figures the students are learning about. Her most recent characters have included a Greek goddess named “Lightening Librarian” and a Viking she called “Brunhilde.”

Park, 62, admitted to offering her homemade jam and chili as a bribe to get employees to volunteer at the library.

After retiring, she plans to take piano and cooking classes, brush up on her Spanish and go on a motorcycle trip with friends.

Parental influence

Howell, a Midwest City native, acquired her pilot's license at age 50.

“It took a long time and it didn't come naturally to me, but that's part of the reason I'm proud of it,” she said.

Howell said her father wanted to get his pilot license while serving in the military but couldn't because he was color blind.

Her father worked as a Transportation Department engineer, and her mother was a secretary for a school district, mostly, Howell said, to pay for her education.

“She wanted me to have a profession and be independent. There were no limits with what they wished for me,” the speech language pathologist said of her parents. “I had a wonderful life growing up.”

Howell said her mother, 85, and father, 90, will attend the reception.

Paine also said her parents were her role models. Her father was a supervisor for a railroad and hired Paine as an operations clerk before she started her teaching career.

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