SD #10 loses over a century of experience to retirements

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Bittersweet farewells

Retiring Dillon School District educators (l to r) Ginny Waldorf, John Schlappy, Tammy Baker and Arlis Vannett divvy up the giant cake presented at their retirement ceremony this summer to serve to their colleagues. M.P. Regan photo

Dillon School District #10 bid a fond farewell to well over a century of educational experience this summer at a retirement ceremony held to honor some of its longtime, departing employees.

“Our district and our community is forever grateful for their service and dedication to our children,” said SD #10 Superintendent Randy Shipman at the June ceremony staged in the district cafeteria for attending honorees Tammy Baker, John Schlappy, Arliss Vanett and Ginny Waldorf, as well as Andrew Zitzer and Pam Scott, neither of whom were present.

“Tammy Baker has taught in our district for 40 years,” said Shipman of the retiring Parkview Elementary teacher.

“Tammy, one word I can say, ‘professional—I mean absolutely a professional in every sense of the word,” added Parkview Elementary Principal Greg Fitzgerald of Baker.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work with very professional educators in our school and I can think of nobody that rises to the level of Tammy Baker,” added the longtime Parkview Elementary principal.

“Tammy does what’s right, what’s best for the kids, and what’s best for others,” asserted Fitzgerald.

“She’s a phenomenal colleague, a wonderful friend, a phenomenal mother, a grandmother, and I think her heart’s in the right place. I would be happy to have her for another 10 years, but she said she wouldn’t do it,” smiled Fitzgerald.

“I can’t think of a better person in our community that deserves retirement.”

The ceremony also honored John Schlappy, who retired this summer after more than three decades as an elementary school teacher at SD #10.

“One thing that I can say about Mr. Schlappy is that he’s all about relationships—with staff, with kids. He creates those bonds when they walk in the door,” said Fitzgerald of the retiring third-grade teacher.

“He’s fun loving. He enjoys what’s going on. And kids enjoy coming to school; they love learning from John,” added Fitzgerald of the 36-year SD #10 veteran.

“I think that’s a special bond that John created with his kids,” said Fitzgerald of Schlappy, who would come to school for Halloween in elaborate costumes.

“John, I’m going to miss you. I know our staff’s going to miss you. And I wish you absolutely nothing but the best,” said Fitzgerald, who also led the tributes to retiring paraprofessional Arlis Vannett.

“Arlis has worked in our special education department… worked with our high-needs students,” said Fitzgerald.

“One thing I tell everyone about Arlis is that she is going to do whatever is asked of her, and she does it with a smile on her face. And sometimes she’ll say, ‘Well, I’m sorry, I didn’t do that right.’ But she will work her hardest and do her best and she will do what’s right for the kids,” added Fitzgerald of Vannett, whom he said has logged more than four decades as an education professional.

“Arlis always had heart for our kids and I don’t think anybody can ever discount how she felt about other staff members and kids and about our community. She’s a very very strong person in our community.”

Shortly after the start of the ceremony, Shipman feted another longtime retiring SD #10 educator at the ceremony, Ginny Waldorf.

“All I want to say is, thank you so much for everything you’ve done for the district, for our kids,” said Shipman to Waldrof, who worked for 17 years at SD #10.

“Ginny we are going to miss you immensely, you’ve been a great employee and a great person and, more importantly, you’ve been a great educator. Thank you so much.”

Though they were not in attendance, longtime SD #10 employees Andrew Zitzer and Pam Scott also got acknowledged for their numerous contributions to the district and its students at the June 2 ceremony.

The Hot Lunch Director at SD #10 for the past decade, Scott had overseen the serving up of more than 880,000 meals to area kids, according to the calculations of Shipman and Fitzgerald.

Zitzer served as a science teacher for more than a quarter century at Dillon Middle School, where he oversaw numerous science fairs and, for a long time, kept a pet boa constrictor named Cleopatra in his classroom to animate lectures on animal science.

“He taught in the district for 28 years,” said Shipman of Zitzer.