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  • Fairbury News staff

District honors retirees

Some of the retirees are shown during a reception at Prairie Central last month.

Prairie Central schools celebrated 23 employees who retired during the 2020 and 2021 school years back on May 28. Together, these employees have served the district for nearly 530 years – an average of 23 years each.

Five of the 2021 retirees have served the district for over 20 years. Dan Groce, principal of Prairie Central Primary West, began and ended his career in Chenoa, first as a PE teacher for Chenoa Grade School and then as an administrator. Dan has also coached various sports, most notably football, for his entire 34-year tenure with the district.

Serving the majority of her career in the district is Becky Bounds, with 30 years of service. Becky grew up as a Chatsworth Bluebird and ended her career just a few miles west, serving as a sixth grade teacher at PC Upper Elementary. While in the district, Becky also taught second grade, fifth grade and Title I reading.

Food Service Director Joni BesGrove is retiring after 29 years with Prairie Central. She began her career as a cook at Westview, then became a secretary in that same school before moving to PCUE as a head cook. In 2001, Joni was hired as Food Service Director, a role she maintained until retirement.

Mike Scott, who has been in the district for 12 years, is retiring as Chief of Maintenance. Mike previously owned a plumbing shop in Chatsworth, and returned to the area in the spring of 2009 to join the Prairie Central staff.

Also retiring this year is Lynn Bryant who has held the roles of bus driver and custodian for 22 years; Vince Hannibal (will retire in December) PCP West custodian for 21 years; Mark Runyon, PCHS custodian for 18 years; Phyllis Welborn, PCHS head cook serving for 18 years; Teri Rutledge, café worker for 16 years; Karen Jackson, PCHS café worker serving for 11 years; and Dave Thomas, who drove a bus for the district for 7 years.

Since the district was unable to celebrate retirements last year due to the COVID shut-down, the following 2020 retirees were also recognized at the end-of-year celebration: Ann Eagleton served as PCHS counselor for 33 years; Marcia Freed and Becky Webster both retired from their posts as PCHS secretary after 33 years; and Rhonda McLellan retired as PCUE secretary after 33 years.

Also retiring was Anna Steidinger, PCP East café worker with 31 years of service; Cathy Smith, PCJH computer and math teacher after 26 years; Sandy Gonzalez and Lisa Gibson, both working in the PCE cafeteria and retiring after 23 years of service; Gail Monahan, PCJH secretary with 21 years of service; Tammy Sanders, PCE cafeteria worker with 20 years of service, Phyllis Krippel as JH paraprofessional with 18 years of service; and Jeanette Zimmerman, Unit Office administrative assistant with 15 years of service.

“Prairie Central will greatly miss all of these dedicated employees, and wishes them well in their retirement,” said Superintendent Paula Crane.

(Superintendent Crane submitted the information to Fairbury News for this article)

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