Summer vacation is wonderful, but goodbyes are tough. Today’s BCACS Blog spends time with two beloved teachers for whom the last day of school is their last day with us.
St. Joseph Elementary School teacher Ardis Vandenboss wouldn’t consider her husband’s suggestion of retirement three years ago.
“Up to that point, I had never considered retirement,” Mrs. Vandenboss said. “I truly loved my teaching. Why retire?”
Mrs. Vandenboss has taught nearly every grade of elementary and middle school during her 40-year career, which includes 32 years for the BCACS. She has mentored many teachers, including current St. Joseph School principal Sara Myers.
“She has a great love of teaching, her students, and our schools,” Mrs. Myers said. “[She] has touched the lives of so many, including mine.”
“Ardis has been an inspiration, a mentor, and most of all a friend,” St. Joseph fourth-grade teacher Liz Casterline said.
“Ardis is a huge personality and a gifted asset,” St. Joseph Elementary Administrative Assistant Jeanine Winkler said. “Parents love her tightly-run ship. She provides lots of love, spread out amongst all her students.”
For the last decade, that love included commuting daily from Coldwater, where Mrs. Vandenboss and her husband bought a “ten-cent house with a million-dollar view”. Such a schedule left little time for friends, grandkids, or even having coffee on the deck.
She started considering her husband’s suggestion, which is why this year’s last day of school will truly be Mrs. Vandenboss’s last day of school.
The goodbyes have been tough, especially with her students, who she promised to visit.
“The kids are the ones who are going to be hardest to leave,” Mrs. Vandenboss said. “This group I’ve got now, not only did I have them for two years, but I’ve had a lot of their siblings. In fact, I had some of their parents.”
Danielle Orton didn’t plan to stay when she took a teaching position at St. Philip High School in 2008.
Her plans changed.
“I fell in love with this environment, with these kids,” Ms. Orton said.
St. Philip teachers wear many hats, a norm Ms. Orton embraced. During her tenure, she taught English, literature, Spanish, health, creative writing, even yearbook.
“My dream job has been to teach every subject I have the ability to,” Ms. Orton said. “My dream job manifested itself at St. Philip.”
Inspired by the St. Philip counselors who continued to teach in the classroom, Ms. Orton pursued her master’s degree in school counseling, which she recently completed.
“I couldn’t picture a better work day than one that involved not only working with our kids in the classroom but also being able to help them dig deeper on a personal level and find their strength,” Ms. Orton said. “I’m happy to have worked at a school that embraces nurturing the mind and the soul.”
This year Ms. Orton’s plans have changed again. She will be moving to Alabama.
“Knowing what I know now about how much you can love your job, I have high expectations for my next position,” Ms. Orton said. “I can’t think of anything that I won’t miss. I’ll miss my St. Philip family.”
The feeling is mutual.
“It’s going to be hard to replace Dani,” St. Philip principal Vicky Groat said. “She has done so much for the students over the years. She has shown so much pride and love for the school. Dani will be a great counselor because of her passion for helping and guiding our youth.”