Board recognizes retiring educators


Four North Central Parke Schools elementary educators will be closing their lesson plan books as well as their classroom doors at the end of the 2023-24 school year.

They were recognized at a special reception before the Board of School Trustees meeting held Wednesday.

Each one was presented a certificate of appreciation and a gift card from Scott Ramsay, NCP School Board President.

Sue Lawson, Karen Baxter, Sherri Paxton and Veronica Hill have decided to retire after serving their respective elementary schools for their careers.

Lawson has been a member of the Turkey Run Elementary School staff for 33 years. At TRES, she has been a mainstay in the first grade for 30 years. She also taught third grade for one year, and served as an aide for second grade and third grade before becoming a classroom teacher.

For Lawson, some of the best moments in her job have been when she sees the students use what they have learned.

“I love to see kids excited about reading, doing math, and writing,” hse said. “I enjoy getting to know all of the students.”

Her retirement plans include caring for her dad, reading, staying in touch with friends and taking long walks in the woods and on the beach. She also hopes to serve as a Cuddle Buddy for babies that have to stay at the hospital while their parents return to home and work.

“I have enjoyed working at a small, rural school with a small staff that seems like extended family,” Lawson said. “I  have enjoyed getting to know all of the students. I am thrilled when a former student sees me and takes the time to visit.  I have had a lot of good times and laughter with staff members! I will miss the students and their hugs the most!”

First grade teacher Paxton is retiring after 37 years of teaching at Rockville Elementary School. During her tenure, she has also taught fourth and second grade.

“I have enjoyed watching the growth of the students from the beginning of the school year to the end of the year,” she siad. “I also enjoyed watching their growth from kindergarten to sixth grade.”

Her special moments have included watching students meet their milestones, receiving hugs and making lifelong friends. She especially appreciates receiving graduation invitations from former students.

Her retirement plans include spending time with her husband and family, gardening, and maybe a little traveling.

“I hope that families continue to read and interact with their children,” Paxton said. “This is vital to speech and language development as well as many other basic skills that children need to be successful in school. Put down the devices, play boardgames, eat meals together, talk about what you see and do every day. These are a few ideas to help your child be more successful.”

Just down the hallway, kindergarten teacher Baxter is also beginning a new chapter.

She has been at RES for 27 years. She also worked at United Care Center as a preschool teacher and served as a substitute teacher. In addition to kindergarten, she has taught second, third and fourth grades as well as physical education classes.

“The thing I will miss most about RES will be my awesome co-workers, past and present,” Baxter said. “I have had the privilege to work with and learn from so many people. My own children were students at RES, and now my grandsons are students. I now also have students whose parents were students of mine.  I love the small community feel that Rockville Elementary retains.”

Teaching kindergarten has been interesting for Baxter. 

“The stories that the kids tell me about their everyday lives, and the excitement they have for life in general is always an uplifting experience,” she said.

Now that she won’t be planning lessons, Baxter hopes to spend more time with family as well as time camping with her horse.

Hill, affectionately known as “Ronnie, will be leaving her counselor office to enjoy time visiting with her children who live in different states. She also wants to spend more time with her brothers and sisters and grandchildren. In addition to spending time with family, she plans to go fishing with her husband, grow flowers, read and sew.

She has been a member of the RES staff for 34 years. Prior to that, she taught special education at Greencastle and Riverton Parke. In 1989, she joined the RES staff to teach special education mild disabilities. Three years later, she moved into the counselor role.

The staff has been one of the most enjoyable parts of working at RES for Hill.

“I think our building has a culture of friendship among the staff,” she said. “We all look out for each other and check in to make sure things are going well. I love being part of family night activities with our staff and all school activity days like STEM, and Field Day. I will miss being a part of a big group of people working to better our community. I raised all four of my children in this area and they all attended our schools.”

One of the highlights of her career has been coaching a Special Olympics Basketball team that won the state championship. She has also enjoyed watching the senior class come back to the elementary school in their caps and gowns for their walk through the hallways.


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