The Delavan-Darien School District honored its seven retirees at a cake-and-punch reception Wednesday, May 22, at Phoenix Middle School. All tolled, we’re losing more than 180 years of experience in educational careers.
Retiring from the district at the end of this 2012-13 school year are:
- Shirley Bigelow, kitchen staff at Darien Elementary, 34 years in the district;
- Scott Deibel, supervisor of building and grounds, 22 years in the district;
- Kathy Maher, Darien Elementary School principal, 31 years in the district (32 ½ years in education);
- Deborah Maki, Wileman Elementary School principal, 18 years in district (34 years in education);
- Diane Purgatorio, kitchen staff at DDHS, 14 years in the district;
- Sue Wermund, classroom aide at Darien Elementary, 9 years in district (22 years in education);
- Diane Woodbury, first/second grade looping teacher at Turtle Creek Elementary, 18 years in district (22 years in education);
Each received a commemorative plaque from State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers. Here’s more about each of the retirees.
Bigelow spent her entire Delavan-Darien career at Darien Elementary School. On her retiree survey, Bigelow said she “enjoyed watching all ‘my’ kids grow up and go through the breakfast and lunch line at Darien Elementary School, and (she enjoyed) all the special interactions with each of them.” Child Nutrition Director Tina Hudy said she could always count on Bigelow to “watch” over not only her own children, but all children at the school to make sure they were happy and healthy.
Deibel was recognized by Business Administrator Carey Bradley, who said of him, “Scott is always looking for opportunities to improve the learning environment and include students in the process. His work ethic and commitment to the staff, students and communities of the district is exemplary and he leads by example.” Deibel has lead many facilities projects over his years, including the construction of Turtle Creek in the early 1990s, the additions to Phoenix Middle School and DDHS in the late 1990s, and upgrades the to the boilers DDHS and Darien Elementary and the auditorium and locker rooms at DDHS. Recently, he oversaw the construction aspects of a $1 million renovation of the district’s fitness facilities and oversaw the installation of SMART Boards in most district classrooms.
Maher, a Herb Kohl Teacher Fellowship Award winner, spent most of her career at Darien Elementary. She started as a DDHS special education teacher, then moved to Darien as a first grade and then second grade teacher before becoming a reading specialist before becoming principal.
“I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at Darien Elementary School as both a teacher and principal,” she said. “I enjoyed working in the village of Darien for so many years and have gotten to know generations of families while working in the same location for years and years.”
Maki was a German teacher in the Manitowoc School District and an associate pricinpal in Neenah before coming to Delavan-Darien. She was principal for 14 years at Phoenix Middle School, two years at Turtle Creek Elementary School, and two years at Wileman Elementary School. Maki was listed as a “Who’s Who of America’s Teachers” and was a member of several educational professional organizations. But the stories she remembers most all involve the many student’s she has taught over the years.
“I feel so blessed to have been a part of all these thousands of lives these 34 years, even though it was only for a brief time.”
Purgatorio had two stints as a district kitchen staff employee, the first for eight years, and the second for six years. She worked at Wileman, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and School, St. Andrews Parish School, and DDHS. She was always able to step-in and control one of the smaller schools’ kitchens by herself if there was ever an absence, Hudy said.
“I have made a lot of friends since I have been with the school district,” Purgatorio said. “It is very hard for me to retire because of all the people I have met, and I will miss everyone very much.”
Wermund never came to work thinking it was just a job or simply work. She saw every day as an experience. She taught and was an aide at area private schools before coming to Delavan-Darien in 2004 as a substitute teacher and 4-year-old kindergarten aide at Darien Elementary.
“I treasure the many ‘awards and honors’ I’ve received in the form of ‘thank yous’ from the teachers, and especially the students’ hugs.”
Woodbury spent about 3 ½ years teaching first grade in Duluth and Mount Horeb before coming to the Delavan-Darien School District in 1995. She spent most of her years here as a library media specialist, one year at all three elementary schools and then nine years in the position at Turtle Creek. Her last eight years were spent as a grades 1 and 2 looping classroom teacher, meaning she taught largely the same group of students for two years.
“My library years were the most fun with the different reading programs, which included building an igloo from milk jugs, Wild West Days with the entire school transforming into a western town, bringing in a space ship for kids to sit in and read, promoting book fairs, and exciting students and staff when new books arrived.
“My teaching years have been great with outstanding colleagues who nurtured me back into teacher mode.”