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OTSD Teachers Retiring with 144 Combined Years of Experience posted on 06/30/2023
By Dennis McNabb
The Mountain Times

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” — Japanese proverb.
Teaching at a high level is an art. It requires commitment, patience and finesse, and simply being proficient in a subject is not enough. The ability to impart knowledge to students in a way that is both interesting and relatable is of equal importance. Even more critical is the ability to inspire; to ignite interest in a topic, and in general, a passion for learning. Benjamin Franklin once said, “TELL me and I forget. TEACH me and I remember. INVOLVE me and I learn.” While not every educator understands that distinction, we have six of them here in the Oregon Trail School District — six amazing teachers who have excelled at their craft and touched the lives of thousands of students over the course of their tenures, and who we are sadly losing this year to retirement.
It’s difficult to put into words what a positive and lasting impact these individuals have had on our communities, or how desperately they will be missed. They are not simply educators. They are our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors, our families; and they are each pillars of the departments they served. We are faced every year with natural attrition, but rarely have we lost so many key players at once. Their absences will be profoundly felt.
Corinne Davidson and Cora Mills both taught at Boring Middle School and are irreplaceable. Corinne taught for a whopping 31 years and Cora for 18. Susan Doan taught for 20 years at Cedar Ridge Middle School (but 30 years in total — her first 10 were at Centennial). Robert Salveter, Fred Trosko and PattiRae Yeager all taught at Sandy High School for 26 years, 38 years, and 11 years, respectively. 144 total years combined! Fred’s influence was so far reaching that on his last day, the entire staff wore shirts reading, “Be like Fred.” Every one of these people though, for decades, have not only played integral roles in the education of our youths, but also mentored their fellow staff members. They are leaders by example, motivating and inspiring others to greatness.
As we get older and start reflecting on our lives, combing through our memories to consider those who helped us most significantly along the way, we often stick most obstinately to family and friends. It’s a natural inclination, and for those fortunate enough to have that kind of support at home, it’s a blessing. Some might credit celebrities, artists or athletes. Certainly, whether we like it or not, they are as visible and influential in our children’s lives as we are. And they are far more dramatic in their efforts! So it’s no surprise that teachers often rank third on that list. Inevitably, they are the unsung heroes of our lives.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! We have the unique opportunity, living in the smaller, tight-knit communities that we do, to rectify this situation; to continue to interact with these individuals even though they have retired from the positions which gained them such renown. Next time you see one of them in town, don’t ignore that opportunity. Instead, take a moment to say hello and let them know how much their efforts affected you, how much they meant to you.

Superintendent Aaron Bayer had this to say: “This was a special group of educators who often gave of themselves to ensure the success of every student they crossed paths with. These folks proved to have an uncommon passion to help students pursue a purpose and to help them on the path of the future they deserved.” The principals at each school all expressed great affection and respect for each of these individuals, noting that they were all in their own unique ways,  irreplaceable.

The teachers themselves made similar remarks, stating how fond they all were of the Oregon Trail School District, its outstanding administrators and students. As much as they will be missed in their positions, they will miss everyone equally in return. And they were all genuinely grateful to have had the privilege of playing such integral roles in the communities they served.

So, how do you replace the irreplaceable? By definition, it’s not possible, and certainly there will be a period of adjustment. But change is inevitable and we must embrace it! New teachers will be coming into the district with the unenviable task of trying to fill those shoes, and they need our support. While we are still in mourning over the profound loss of our retirees, we must not forget to simultaneously welcome those who now seek to establish their own legacies.

With that in mind, we say “thank you” to the extraordinary group of six who have just retired. From all of your former colleagues here in the school district, the staff at The Mountain Times, and all of the families you have touched over the years with your wisdom, humor and dedication, we appreciate your service and wish you the best in your future endeavors. You will not be forgotten! To those new to the district who will be starting in the fall, we welcome you with open minds, open hearts and open arms.



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