District bids farewell to 4 retirees
Friends and colleagues in the Basehor-Linwood School District bid farewell to four longtime district employees Monday afternoon at the Central Office.
"We're here to honor four special people this afternoon," Superintendent Bob Albers said about Athie Neas, Basehor-Linwood High School attendance secretary, Nancy Lessig, third-grade teacher at Linwood Elementary School, Vickie McEnroe, LES principal, and Don Swartz, executive director of business and facilities.
The four will be retiring at the end of the school year.
Neas was the first to be called to the front of the room. Albers said Neas began at BLHS 25 years ago as a part-time food service employee and a part-time secretary.
"Evidently her culinary skills weren't that great, so she became a full-time secretary the following year," Albers joked.
He went on to say that Neas always knows what's going on at the school and everybody knows they can always count on her for the correct information.
"We're going to miss that Athie," he said.
Neas said she will spend her retirement traveling to various places including Colorado, Las Vegas and North Carolina, spending time with her grandchildren and possibly volunteering, but she will definitely miss her time at the high school.
"I'm going to miss the kids and the rat race that goes along with the job," she said.
Lessig came to the district 19 years ago from Lawrence as a fifth-grade teacher at LES. Albers commended her on her willingness to always volunteer and serve on committees.
"Nancy is one of those people that is active," Albers said. "She's served the district and the teachers well throughout the years. We certainly appreciate your years of service in the Basehor-Linwood School District."
The small district and close-knit family is something Lessig said she always enjoyed about Basehor-Linwood, as well as the helpful cooperation and willingness to help each other. She said she would miss the students the most and may even volunteer with children in her retirement.
"I just enjoy the students a lot," she said. "I think in order to be a good teacher, you really have to care about the students."
Lessig said she also wanted to take time to rest, get more involved in her church, read and explore new activities.
"I have two grandchildren," she said. "I'll be into Play-Doh, coloring and things like that, so I'll be busy."
McEnroe began teaching first grade at Basehor Elementary School in 1974. After a brief absence to another school district, she came back to BES as a fifth-grade teacher and then a seventh-grade math teacher at the middle school. In 1989, she snagged the principal position at LES.
"We know she's not fully retiring," Albers said. "She's going to continue to serve education and continue to lend her educational expertise. We wish you the best of luck in whatever you choose to do."
McEnroe said she will miss the connections with the students and their families, but is confident her successor, Cindy Hiebert will continue on with their strong team. She said she's been telling the students that it is time to share.
"Retirement is the right decision to make, but I'm not counting down the days," she said.
A part-time position working with kids may be in her future, as well as spending time with her three grandchildren and going on a cruise. She said there have been many happy and memorable moments during her years in the district, but those "Ah-Ha" moments with students are what stands out in her mind.
"They're so genuine," she said. "When you take the time to listen to them, it's amazing what can happen."
Swartz has held four different positions, worked with six superintendents and seen 21 classes of students graduate from BLHS. In his 21 years with the district, he was the assistant principal of the high school, principal of the middle school, principal of the high school and director of personnel in the Central Office.
Albers touted Swartz's knowledge of the district.
"We were just talking in the office about how we're going to miss Don and his historical perspective and knowledge," he said. "Don, we know we can't replace you, but we will try to survive without you."
His early days in the district are something Swartz said he remembers well. He walked into his office on his first day in 1986 and saw a block of wood with nails sticking out of it hanging on the wall and soon learned it was where the padlocks from the lockers were hung. Later on in his career, he wondered what would become of the shabby office.
"Do you think we'll ever live long enough to see this nasty block of wood, the warped paneling and this nasty old carpet go away or see a paved parking lot at the high school?" He said he asked the secretary at the time. "Both of us kind of agreed we never would."
And, he said the good part of it was that he got to see just what was accomplished in the 1997 bond issue.
A list of household projects awaits him in his retirement as well as lots of golf, fishing, spending time with his 4-month-old granddaughter and possibly a part time job. He said he looks back on his time in the district fondly.
"I would say 95 percent of it was fantastic," he said. "When you've been somewhere for 21 years and can say that 95 percent of it was good, that's not a bad thing."