Friday, May 16, 2008

Retirement--Reflection on an Incredible Educator!

These past few weeks, there has been a flurry of retirement parties for so many administrators in our district. Our generation is leaving the education profession to enjoy days of leisure or possibly pursuing another career. Our former superintendent, Wally Delecki, refers to it as "recycling." I like that term!

I believe that the education profession is losing some unbelievable talent and expertise. My hope is that the younger educators can stand up for what is right for children in these troubled political times.

I missed one reception last Friday for my friend, Sharon, as we had to go to Douglas. I was there in spirit and heard that it was wonderful. Her mom came from California to help celebrate.

Yesterday I went to two different receptions. One was for my dear friend, Jill. Tonight I went to a party at the home of one of her teachers. Jill's parents even came from Iowa for these events. I am sure that they are very proud and how fortunate she is to be able to have her parents at her retirement! She always talks about her wonderful childhood and speaks of her parents with such affection. It was good to see them and to visit with them.

I would like to write about Jill and dedicate this post to her. It has been awhile since I have been able to write about something joyful!

I first met Jill 20 years ago in June. I had been teaching third grade and pursing my administrative certification. I was given a wonderful opportunity by Wally Delecki to be the interim personnel director. One of my first duties was to greet the new principal for one of our junior highs and the new assistant principal at another junior high. Jill had moved down from Northern Arizona where she had been a principal. Nikki had just moved her from Texas. The three of us became friends immediately.

Over the years, we have had many good times together. In 1993, Jill married George. Both of them have been junior high principals in our district. I was so happy for Jill to have found someone like George. They are both wonderful people, great administrators, and dear friends. I have been proud to have them as colleagues, but even more as friends.

Jill went through some very bad times with her health a little over 10 years ago. She received some very bad news about her kidneys. They were failing and the only option was a kidney transplant. This was a very scary time. After many tests, it was determined that George was a match and could donate a kidney to Jill.

I still remember like it was yesterday the day that Jill told her staff about her health and her upcoming transplant. I remember going to the faculty meeting at her school that morning to lend moral support. Jill's staff was so supportive and so worried about her.

On June 3, 1998, Jill received George's kidney. Both of them did great and recuperated very well. Jill went back to work and has enjoyed good health and has been able to continue to serve the children who attend her school. I think this is such a great love story!

Jill and George have become very involved in the transplant world. They participate in the Transplant Games and have done speaking about the importance of organ donation.

I am so pleased that she is going to be able to retire. Our job as principals is a difficult one with long hours, much stress, and having to be on call 24/7. George is going to continue working for awhile, but he will be at our district office instead of at a school.

Although I am going to miss seeing Jill at meetings and such, I know that our friendship will continue. We try to get together often. Now she will be able to be our "Fun Planner" full time.

I have the utmost respect for Jill. She has had a passion for the education profession that will be hard to replace. Jill has integrity, knowledge, caring, compassion, empathy...........I could go on and on. I have relied on her sound advice many times in the past. She deserves being able to retire and to enjoy life without the stress and long hours. She will truly be missed!!

I love quotes, etc. and I found an Irish Blessing that I believe fits this occasion well. So, my friend Jill.........

May Love and Laughter light your days
And warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

Wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

With joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
Bring the best to you and yours!

I asked George what her favorite song was. He told me that she doesn't listen to much music, but that she likes "That's What Friends Are For." So that is what I am going to put on first on this blog, along with another one by Paul Anka called "The Times of Your Life." I love the words in both of these songs and think they are very fitting for my friend, Jill.

I feel so fortunate to have had such a good friend for the past 20 years and I look forward to the next many years of this wonderful friendship. There is a great Irish saying,
May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty. So Jill, now that you have unlimited time, you are the designated chief planner to make sure that never happens!! There are four of us who get together on a regular basis to talk, to laugh, and to be able to be ourselves for a weekend. I treasure those times and those friendships. They mean so much. Three of the "buddies" are in the picture at the bottom of this blog.

You will be missed by many, Jill. Thanks for all that you have done for the students you have served over so many years. Our community and our society are better because of educators like Jill Bowers! And most of all, thank you for being my dear friend!!!!!!

3 remarks:

velvet brick said...

What a wonderful tribute to her! Thank you for the history of your enduring friendships. I hope her retirement brings all things wonderful her way!

Anonymous said...

Well done Sheila! Congratulations to you Jill ~ enjoy a well deserved retirement. You are so loved in the Proffitt household.
Love & hugs, Nancy

Kerri said...

I am glad that you were able to have such a remarkable friend and co-worker. Jill's retirement is well deserved, and I am sure it will be well enjoyed as well.