The final week of school at Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School was bittersweet for teachers Laurie Zeuske and Shirlie Hogston as they said goodbye to students.
Zeuske, a special education teacher, and Hogston, a speech and language therapist, both retired at the end of the school year from the Clintonville School District.
Zeuske said she made the decision a year and a half ago to retire. She said the decision wasn’t tough to deal with initially or at the beginning of the school year. As the school year progressed, though, she said it began becoming reality that this would be her last year.
The last week of school was especially tough and emotional.
“A lot of tears, but a lot of happy times,” Zeuske said. “Saying goodbye to the kids is very hard, knowing that I won’t have that daily interaction with them.”
It is that daily interaction that Zeuske will miss the most.
“Most memories are about the students, when they finally get something and you see that light bulb go on and they feel proud because they can do this. It’s something they struggled with and finally they achieved it,” she said.
She added that it has been a privilege to work for the Clintonville School District for 35 years.
Hogston spent 33 years with the district. When she first moved from Michigan to Wisconsin 33 years ago, she said she had four job offers. She picked the job in Clintonville.
She admitted she thought about retiring last year, but waited until this year. Her enjoyment of working with kids made the decision a tough one.
“I’ll miss the kids. As a therapist, seeing the smile on their face when they are finally able to do something that was difficult for them to do,” Hogston said.
She said she’ll also miss the daily contact with her colleagues.
The last week of school was also emotional for her and her students. But she has satisfaction knowing she made a difference. She cited an example in which one of her former students who had speech difficulties, became a speech therapist.
“She said that was because of me,” Hogston said.
She added, “I feel we have a really good school system here. We have a really good staff. I think our kids get very well prepared for going out for their future endeavors. I will miss being part of the process.”