It was an often-emotional ceremony Monday at Dixon High’s Theater full of cheers, laughter and reflection of what transpired during the school year within Dixon Unified School District.
The special ceremony “Fantastic Finishing Festivities” served a triple purpose: to honor staff members who are retiring this year, acknowledge staff members who have worked for 10 years or longer within the district and to review the school year, both good and bad.
Four teachers are retiring from their posts within the district. CA Jacobs Social Science Teacher Tom Camp has worked in the district both as a teacher and an administrator for 22 years.
“When you listen to Tom talk about his teaching you only think, this is the passion of a teacher,” CA Jacobs Principal Cindy Moody-Perkins said. “The stories of him teaching English with a stage he had built up in his room and the kids doing Shakespeare plays. You may not know that he did battles of Gettysburg in the corn fields of Dixon. And he also made a movie of the wars. And then he takes it even further, he does a premier of the movie. You understand what Tom has given to our children. When I think of him, I think of kids living what they are learning.”
“It’s been quite an experience these 22 years … it’s been a lot of fun and I’m going to miss a lot of it but I am looking forward to the retirement part,” Camp said, adding a verse from Vanilla Ice’s hit “Ice, Ice Baby.”
Anderson Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Nancy Candee has worked as a teacher for the last 37 years, in Dixon since 1981.
“She has nurtured so many Dixon kids,” said Anderson Elementary School Principal Susan Girimonte. “She is definitely a person of conviction.”
Candee said: “I was looking for inspirational quotes on the internet and I realized that my teaching friends are my inspiration and the children that I work with. Because you come to school every day and you work against insurmountable odds I just appreciate everything that you do and all that you taught me.”
Hired in 1978, Dixon High Counselor Lynne de Bie is also retiring this year.
“If you were a child in Dixon and you wanted to get yourself to college, this was the woman to help you,” Interim DUSD Superintendent Brian Dolan said. “How many countless kids in this town have benefitted from her wisdom and her advice and guidance?”
“When I think of Lynne one thing that always comes to mind is what a strong advocate she is for students, always looking to do whatever she can to help students out or their families, also strong willed enough, and I mean this in a good way, where she will defend what’s right and that’s always an admirable quality for any person,” Dixon High Principal John Barsotti added.
“We are a community of educators, but we are a community of people who care about each other and I want to thank my Dixon High School staff, my friends, you know who you are, and to all of you, thank you so much for so many years and I will miss you,” de Bie said.
Dixon High School Special Education Teacher Jeff Fair was not present during the awards ceremony as he is recovering from surgery he underwent about a month ago, Dolan said. He too, was honored after serving 14 years within the District.
“I did talk to him the other day, he is recovering he is feeling better he wanted me to pass along his thanks to all of you and to wish all of you well, he hopes to be by really soon to see all of you , to see all of us and to connect with us again,” Barsotti said.
Dixon High School Math Teacher Suzanne Galloway is retiring from her post after 38 years – 10 years at CA Jacobs and 28 years at Dixon High School – of teaching in Dixon.
“She is one of those people who wanted to make sure that when that child left her room that they knew what she had taught,” Dolan said. “For all of us some transitions are more anxiety created than others, and for all of us, Suzanne is leaving us this enormous legacy of working together between an association and a school district. In so many ways she is the heart and soul of this place, because her emphasis has been sticking together and doing the right thing.”
"It’s been a wonderful 38 years I really lucked out when Dixon hired me,” Galloway said. “I love teaching all the students I have loved working with all of you. Everybody became my second family. I know I am going to miss it and I’m going to come back either as a volunteer or subbing or something because I don’t think I’ll be able to completely stay away.”
Each of the teachers was awarded a special clock as well as an award from the Dixon Teachers Association. In addition to the retirees, the district honored Dixon’s Certificated Employee of the Year, Ana Lopez-Hanafee, who teaches kindergarten at Anderson Elementary School and DHS Account Clerk Norma Holtmeyer, Dixon Unified’s Classified Employee of the Year. Also honored Wednesday were 30 teachers and staff members who have served with the district 10 years or more.
Wednesday’s ceremony also served to reflect on the school year. Dolan told the many teachers, principals, counselors, coaches and staff members that communication, leadership among the board, collaboration and other things have gotten better for the district since last year, but that there still much work to do.
Dolan vowed the following to the staff:
- I will continue to work hard.
- I will continue to put the interests of our students first.
- I will get back to publishing Dolan’s Dixon Digest to improve my communication with all of you.
- In August, I will provide a more explicit description of the vision for the District that is commonly held by the Board and Administration.
- I will continue to work to balance the two primary demands on my time and effort: Time spent leading, time spend managing.
Dolan acknowledge that he has spent more time managing, but vowed to be more of a leader in the coming months. After the conclusion of the ceremony, the staff enjoyed an ice cream reception in the school's multi-purpose room.