It was a retirement party like no other. Eight Edmonds-Woodway High School retirees with 231 years of combined service were joined on Monday afternoon by family, colleagues and well-wishers along Warrior Way on the EWHS campus for a festive, sun-drenched bon voyage party done COVID-style.
“We would love to send off all of our retirees with hugs, high-fives and face-to-face messages but circumstances don’t allow that right now,” said Lynne Behrendt, who spearheaded the event. “Just as we adapted to honor our graduating seniors, we’re donning the can-do Warrior spirit to say our farewells to a clutch of staff who have contributed so much to the Edmonds-Woodway school community over the years, and are now moving onto new adventures in retirement.”
All was in readiness at 3 p.m. as the first cars began streaming through Warrior Way, stopping at each retiree’s station with gifts, smiles, virtual hugs and loads of good wishes for a long and happy retirement.
Chris Karzmar, business teacher famed for the “Karzmar look” (fixed stare with raised eyebrows) that never failed to get students’ attention. She’s looking forward – once COVID restrictions are lifted – to traveling, with Thailand high on her list.
Frank Avery (who could not be present for the event), taught an eclectic array of courses ranging from personal finance to English to graphic arts, which fittingly reflect his diverse range of experience and talents. His retirement plans are equally wide-ranging, including gardening, reading great books and travel.
Susie Roberts, described by colleagues as a true Renaissance woman, taught business classes ranging from standbys like marketing and economics, to specialized courses including travel and tourism, and sports and entertainment marketing. She and her husband Dale look forward traveling across the U.S., cruising the Amazon and visiting the Czech Republic.
Renee Costan has joined the EWHS faculty in 1998, teaching an array of courses including English, math and academic lab – but her favorite is history. As if this weren’t enough, she also prepared IEPs (Individualized Education Programs), IEP goal progress reports, summaries of performance for seniors, and new continuous learning plans. Retirement plans include home remodeling, sewing, gardening, crafts and reading.
Gail Shepard’s teaching career spanned several school districts in places like Bainbridge Island, Richland and New Jersey. At EWHS she is remembered as the gold standard for learning support service in the Edmonds School District. When people need advice about a policy or procedure or how to best accomplish something challenging, they went to Shepard. She been a prominent fixture at E-W for so long that many will find it hard to imagine the school without her. In retirement she plans to travel to Eastern Europe, Greece and Israel, and spend more time with her grandchildren.
Pam Hamilton has dedicated her professional life to helping students. As an EWHS school psychologist, Hamilton loved working in the counseling center and felt honored to work with special education staff, general education teachers serving all kinds of students, and counselors. In retirement she plans a ministry trip to Kazakhstan with her church, where she will work with special-needs children at an orphanage. She also plans to spend time in Wisconsin with her son’s family and her granddaughters.
Karen Rautenberg’s career was long, varied and included much travel and experiential learning. As EWHS Librarian. she started the high school Battle of the Books, helped secure standardized funding for libraries, and co-created the Rediscover Reading project. Retirement plans include long-distance backpacking, and domestic and international travel with partner Mitzi, and singing with the Womens’ Chorus.
Cyndie Bennett began her teaching career in physical education and coaching. After taking 14 years off to raise her two sons, she began substitute teaching for the Edmonds School District, and for the past eight years has been universally recognized as EWHS’s Substitute Teacher Extraordinaire, even serving as Dean of Students while the position was vacant. In retirement, she and husband Geoff Bennett (former EWHS vice principal) will spend time enjoying their cabin in Cascades, and when travel restrictions are lifted plan trips to Morocco, England and Spain.
Congratulations, bon voyage, and happy trails to all.
— By Larry Vogel