School retirees leave some large shoes to fill

Jessica Lewis

For The New Era

School is back in session but some familiar faces are gone this year, as several Sweet Home teachers has retired after long, dedicated careers in education.

Among them are two couples, all longtime teachers or administrators – Debbie and Mike Aman, and Debi and Alan Temple.

They are among three other treachers and three classified employees who have retired. Holley Principal Jan Sharp stepped down from that position to work part-time as the district curriculum director.

The other retiring teachers are: Lynn Ellis, who spent 30 years in education, 20 as a high school teacher; Georgetta Howard,a child development specialist at Hawthorne and Holley schools for the last 10 years; and Lauri Carlson, who had been a teacher in the district for 30 years.

The classified employees are Mary Burton, a special eduation assistant at the junior high and high school for 22 years; Carolyn Care, a behavior management assistant at the junior high; and Jill Namitz, a payroll clerk in the district office, who retired earlier in the year. Care will continue working on a special contract through this school year, according to district officials.

“Both [my wife] and I really feel blessed that we had the opportunity to work in Sweet Home for 30-plus years,” said junior high teacher and coach Alan Temple, who, with his wife Debi, decided to retire together in June. “We feel it really has a good education system. We’ve worked with some great kids, had some excellent colleagues and good supportive parents, so its been our pleasure and our honor.”

Debi Temple had taught for 30 years and Alan for 31. Debi began her teaching career at the junior high school level but transferred to SHHS, where she taught Physical Education. Alan spent 15 years teaching United States History and began teaching evening computer technology classes at Linn-Benton Community College, where he realized that he really enjoyed the subject. When the option to teach computer classes at the junior high became available, he seized the opportunity and taught the class for an additional 15 years. During his teaching career, he also coached track and cross-country at both the junior high and high school levels.

“I’ve had kids come up afterwards and just say thank you for helping them,” Debi Temple said. “You can tell they’re [sincere] since you’ve helped them through challenges, and it may not even be academic challenges. It may be personal challenges when they came for advice and guidance.”

The Temples have two sons, the youngest of whom is currently attending school to follow in his parents’ footsteps and become a teacher, he hopes, in Sweet Home. The couple says that working in the same field was beneficial both to their relationship with each other and with their children as they always had the same work hours and the same time off.

Mike and Debbie Aman, who also retired last school year, agree with the Temples, stating that working in the same field had a positive impact on their relationship.

“We understood how much time it took and we bounced ideas off each other,” said Mike Aman, who stepped down as principal at Hawthorne School.

Aman taught elementary school in Lebanon for eight years until becoming an elementary school principal.. His career in education spans 30 years.

Debbie Aman taught elementary school for 31 years and won five teaching awards, including a KGAL teaching award and an award from WalMart in which students who visited the store could vote for their favorite teacher.

“I think for me [the best part of teaching] was when the kids would start to love learning and when you could see it light up in their eyes and they’d come back and thank you for what you did,” she said. “No two days were ever the same. The time just flew.”

The Amans enjoyed their jobs so much that they never referred to it as “work,” simply “going to school,” Debbie said.

Mike Aman said the perspective from the principal’s office was a little different than teaching, but he still enjoyed it.

“If you become a principal, you’re a bit more separated from the kids because you’re not together all day,” he said, “but I’d find time to interact – recess, handing out birthday cards, etc. I always wanted the kids to enjoy school because it’s so important now. I wanted the school to be like a family so they’d develop and love coming to school.”

Lynn and Nancy Ellis also taught together at the same school, but unlike the Temples and the Amans, they are not retiring together.

“[Nancy] wants to keep going,” Lynn Ellis said. “She hasn’t been teaching as long as I have. She’s still got a lot of fire for teaching and educating. She loves the kids, so she’s going to stay with it for as long as she wants to.”

Lynn Ellis taught for 30 years, 20 of which were spent teaching business at Sweet Home High School. He was also the head baseball coach and the assistant football coach. Nancy has been teaching social studies at Sweet Home High School for approximately 12 years, Lynn said. They have three children – a daughter and two sons.

“Our kids were around the building all the time and if things came up, we were able to talk about it right away,” Lynn said. “It had a real positive effect [on our family relationship] because we were able to share things going on each day. It was a really neat experience. The only drawback is sometimes [Nancy and I] would wind up talking shop at home more than we should, but other than that it was really a positive experience.”

All the retiring teachers noted that they would miss working with students. Alan Temple said that he wants to “somehow stay connected with education,” so he may occasionally work as a substitute teacher or become a coach, depending on what opportunities open up.

“I look back on it and anybody who goes into education with the idea that they want to teach a particular subject or that they like the hours or something is crazy,” Ellis said. “The kids are the reason we’re there. If there’s anything I’m going to miss about teaching, it’s going to be being around the kids on a daily basis and relating with them. I loved all of them and that part of it will be difficult.”