Quick, who was this year’s NFL MVP? Which artist won the Grammy for best record of the year? Drawing a blank? Who won the Oscar for best actor this year. That was only a couple of weeks ago. Still struggling? Minus three points if you’ve already been to Google. How can we forget such important people? These folks are idolized by millions. Their performances are watched the world over. Well…it’s just entertainment after all, so let’s move on to something really important. Who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize? It wasn’t Barak Obama. That was 2009, nice try. Nothing yet? He was given the award for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights. Wow, hard to get more important than that, yet I’m guessing most of you are now 0-4 regarding our little quiz.
Let’s shift gears a little bit. New quiz. Quick, name your Kindergarten teacher. Your HS English teacher. Your 6th Grade Science teacher. How many of you now have perfect quiz scores? How many of you could name all of your K-12 teachers? I’m guessing a lot.

During the past two weeks I have announced the retirements of three teachers at SCSD #1: Craig Sheppard, Bev Walker, and Mary Ann Almquist. Together they have 109 years of experience in our district. They aren’t rock stars, movie stars, or famous athletes. They don’t make millions of dollars. They probably aren’t household names outside of Pinedale. But not surprisingly, as we demonstrated above, these names will endure much longer than the ephemeral infatuations of the twenty-four hour news cycle. And they will do so in a rich and meaningful way. It’s almost impossible to state the impact they’ve had on our students and community, but it’s tangible nonetheless.

I’ve seen some really great movies and heard some really great songs, and I’ve witnessed some unbelievable athletic performances. And while they inspired me for a while, not a single one of them stayed after school with me to provide extra help. None of them told me I could do it when I thought I couldn’t and then helped me learn how. None of them taught me to think for myself or believe in myself. But teachers did those things for me. And the teachers that are leaving our district have done it collectively for over a century.

Realistically, I suffer no illusions that the heroes and role models in the United States will continue to center around athletes and performers. And I will still watch the football games, movies and concerts of my favorite athletes and performers. But as three great educators hang up their spurs at SCSD #1, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we take a moment to say thank you to our retirees, and know that forty years from now the names and actions our students remember will be theirs.


About Jay Harnack

Superintendent of Sublette County School District #1
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  1. ward wise says:

    Well said as they have made a difference for so many. …Thank you! !!!!!

  2. Katie says:

    Thank you, Jay, for that well worded tribute to these three great teachers. I graduated from PHS a while back and began my school career here in Pinedale as well. I took classes from both Mrs. Hittle (I mean Almquist! :)) and Mr. Sheppard, both of whom taught me wonderful lessons that I still use much later in life. Thanks to both of them (and Bev too!) for their commitment to the youth of Pinedale over the many years. I am sad for those students in the future who won’t have access to these wonderful teachers, but am hopeful that someone equally as giving and committed will step up to fill their very large shoes. Have a wonderful retirement, you three! You will be missed!

  3. Ken Konicek says:

    Great observation!! I just took a short trip down memory lane as I recalled several of my favorite teachers.

  4. Mark Pape says:

    Very good post Jay. Thanks for that reminder of what really is important.

  5. Julie Huntley says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Jay. It’s the people “in the trenches” that make the difference. The ones who get up every morning looking for the small miracles in life that they can be part of…the ones who think of others first and themselves last. Thanks, Teachers!

  6. Dari Quirk says:

    Nice comments and insights Jay. They are all wonderful teachers who have made a real difference in so may children’s lives.

  7. Rollie Myers says:

    I was a fellow educator with Craig, Bev, and Mary Ann for many years and yes, Pinedale Schools are losing three exceptional educators. In addition the retirement of Carolyn Elliot is also a great loss to our educational system. I wish them all the very best of times in their retirements. And thank you Superintendent for recognizing their value.


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