SVSD retirees say goodbye to students and staff
October 2, 2008 · Updated 2:46 PM
SNOQUALMIE As another school year comes to a close,
students and staff are already counting the days until their summer vacation
begins. There is a handful of Snoqualmie Valley School District staff, however,
who has started a different countdown, one that leads to their final days of
Fall City Elementary kindergarten teacher Richard Hickam is one of
the teachers who is savoring his last days of his 26-year career with the district.
"I'm really discovering the things I care about and discovering
those things about me that are special," he said. "Retirement is a special time
to do that."
Hickam fondly recalled the many adventures he and his students
went through together including looking for fossils, visiting Snoqualmie Falls
and the now legendary story about the deer that jumped through his window
and broke through another window to get out.
But the teacher's favorite activity was to see his students mature
into young adults.
"The best part of being a teacher is the kids and watching them
grow and change and become winners," he said. "I take a lot of pride in that."
But now it's time for Hickam to be involved with his stepson's
growth and Hickam plans to volunteer with Mount Si High parent groups.
Then he and his wife Janet will pack up their belongings and move to the
Oregon Coast where they will fish, hike and garden.
However, the veteran teacher's creative curriculum will live
on through his daughter who will inherit the teaching materials, which
include shark jaws, nuts and bolts, homemade learning games and seashells.
The district will also be losing North Bend Elementary
teacher Louise Massey. Massey has been inspiring first and second graders for
20 years, and prior to that, she was a substitute in the SVSD for 10 years.
"First-grade kids really love their teachers," she said. "It's neat when
a struggling student came up to me and his eyes got big and he said,
`Mrs. Massey, I can read and this is fun!'"
"It's things like that that make it rewarding," she added.
Even though Massey is leaving the school, she said she plans to return
as a volunteer. And since she lives just a few blocks from North Bend
Elementary, her co-workers always know where to find her. As for other
future endeavors, Massey said that she wants to travel, garden, read and donate
her time to local organizations.
"I want this to be a meaningful time in my life and it'll be easier
because there won't be as many demands on my life," she said.
But before she can go on to do other things, she still needs to
survive the final day of school, which she anticipates will be an emotional day.
"The hardest will be the last day when we all stand in a line outside
and wave to the children," Massey said.
"I know it's time, but it's not easy to leave."
For Mount Si High counseling secretary Sandy Foerste, the task of
saying goodbye has already begun as she congratulates the graduating seniors
of the Class of 2000. Since 1973, Foerste has been helping students chart
their future courses, and over the years, she has been known as the secretary,
college coordinator and graduation coordinator.
"My nephew asked what I do and I said, `I nag seniors all year long
like a mom,'" she said. "But I do it in
a way that they're not offended."
Over the years Foerste has seen the scholarship money grow and it's
only getting bigger and better.
"I'm so in awe of the community in this Valley because they support
the students in so many ways. They're always adding new scholarships
and they've awarded $37,000 this year," she said.
And as the seniors leave the safe halls of Mount Si, so will Foerste
who plans on traveling around the country with her husband Ron in their
34-foot motor home. The couple recently sold their house in Maple Valley and
they will eventually settle in Yakima, she said.
"I have mixed feelings (about retiring) because I love working with
the kids and the staff at Mount Si. But I'm ready to be a grandma and see
the world," Foerste said.
The Wildcats will also say goodbye to head secretary
Ellen Snyder. She began 23 years ago (when Assistant Principal Greg Hart was
a senior at Mount Si) as the financial secretary.
"When I first started, the high school was smaller and more
intimate. You knew all the staff and kids,"
she recalled. "Now, it saddens me that I don't know the kids like I used to."
"You see the leaders or the kids at the opposite end of the scope,"
Snyder will spend her time riding her horses and she and her
husband John will probably move to Eastern Washington for its warmer, drier
"In retirement it's important to slow the pace down, but I still want
to be active," she said. "But I don't
want to be in the hustle and bustle of Interstate 405."
Glenda Charbonneau should know how hectic traffic can get since she
has been driving a bus for the district for 25 years. She rounded off her
career driving the route for students with special needs.
There have been many changes in the transportation department
since she first began in 1970. For example, the early buses came with nothing
but the seats and a steering wheel. There were no radios to communicate
with the main office and the drivers relied on the students to learn their
"You would drive along the road and if you saw a kid, you'd pick
them up," Charbonneau recalled.
The children not only taught her the routes, but also how to face
the challenges of the day.
"When you're working with the severely handicapped, no matter
how bad things are for them, they can always smile," she said. "So I
thought if they can smile, I don't have any problems."
"They keep you humble and straight," Charbonneau added.
She has continued on as a substitute driver for the district since
retiring in March. But most of her time is spent organizing her new home
in Snoqualmie. Later, she and her husband Ron will jump in their
motor home and go wherever they please.
Also retiring from Mount Si High is family and consumer
science teacher Sharon Glazier. Glazier has been with the district for 11 years.