(Posted May 11, 2021)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
More than 200 years of cumulative experience will walk out the doors of Jefferson Local school buildings following the retirement of six individuals.
School board member David Harper praised the employees during a May 10 meeting, saying, “What we are celebrating is a team effort. Everybody pulled together to make a successful school system for our students.”
Payroll Clerk Sandy Boucher started out as a volunteer with the school system and parlayed that experience into a full-time career in the treasurer’s office. Treasurer Mark Ingles called her a stabilizing force early on in his career.
“You taught me so much about West Jefferson,” Ingles told Boucher. “You care about the district. You will be missed.”
William Mullett said in all the years he has served as superintendent, the district never had an assistant superintendent, “but Sandy came as close as can be.”
Title I instructor and intervention specialist Tami Hill spent 33 years as an elementary and special education teacher, and all six of her children attended West Jefferson schools.
Jeff Mere taught eighth grade language arts for 36 years at the middle school and coached for 35 years.
Former cafeteria worker and bus driver Cindy Niles spent three decades feeding and busing the students of West Jefferson. She started out working in the cafeteria before acquiring ceritifcation to drive school buses, which she did until retiring.
Debbie Omen was born a Roughrider. She grew up in West Jefferson and followed in her father’s footsteps as a West Jefferson teacher after graduating from the high school in 1977. In August 1981, she started teaching language arts and also was a social studies and environmental education instructor.
Seven years later, Omen received her master’s degree and was hired in 2003 as the middle school principal. She also spent 15 years as the school’s spelling bee advisor.
“In the past, I’ve said what I most remember is that as great as Debbie is as an educator, she is even better as a person.” Mullett said. “She always stayed true to herself.”
Pat Owens spent almost 32 years working in the high school cafeteria as a cook and cashier before retiring this year. She said she loved seeing the children and later seeing their children come through the lines in the cafeteria.
“Of the six retiring here today, it’s 206 years (of service) combined,” said board President Melissa Adams, “which is amazing.”