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Retiring Kingsley Educators Reflect on Years in the District

Congratulations to all of the Kingsley Area Schools staff members who are retiring this year. Thank you for your years of service, hard work, dedication, and passion. You have changed many lives!

To celebrate their milestone, we asked them to reflect on their careers and years in the district.

Sue Billiau, Kingsley Elementary School

"I have been working at Kingsley Schools in the Elementary Building as a Title I Para Pro for 11 Years, one year in Kindergarten, one year in Second Grade and nine years in Third Grade. My favorite part of the job is teaching the kids how to read. The moment when you see the 'I get it!' look in their eyes is priceless! In retirement, I am looking forward to moving back home to California so I can be close to my family and also my daughter who is attending college at the University of Oregon next year."

Cathie Bott, Kingsley Elementary School

"I've been here 30 years, this is my 30th. I told myself I'd quit when my kids graduated, but that didn't happen! I love the kids and the people I work with. The kids are so excited to be here. I always felt like I was making a difference. In retirement, I don't have any plans. I don't know what it will look like! We'll have to find out. Maybe a bit of travel, get away from winter for a few weeks. Kingsley is a great school and the people are so community-oriented. It's going to be bittersweet to leave because I've made such good friendships here, and I love the kids."

Linda Gursinski, Kingsley Elementary School

"My time in Kingsley has been great. It really was welcoming and I've made a lot of friends and the kids are great. The staff is great. I've just had a wonderful experience here and I'm going to miss it. I have been a special education paraprofessional throughout my five years here, starting in kindergarten and preschool, wherever there was a need. I just love their enthusiasm and their love for learning, they're so bright-eyed. I'm going to miss my days here and hopefully, I'll return to do some subbing and visit when I can.

"I have a lot of plans and I think it's about time I get going on to other things that I want to do with my life. I just purchased a cottage on Lake Huron, and that was quite unexpected. I never thought I would be able to own a place right on the lake! But fortune had me in mind and I lucked out. I'm looking forward to possibly moving there this summer and spending the whole summer there."

Bob Keena, Kingsley High School

"I have 32 years in education with 30 years in Kingsley Schools as a middle school and high school teacher. The most rewarding part of teaching is working with the kids and watching them pursue their interests. I will miss daily interactions with the students, and I am looking forward to traveling with my wife after I retire. It has been an honor to work with the Kingsley community!"

Kelly Knight, Kingsley High School

"I started teaching in Kingsley in the fall of 1996 after teaching in Mesick for four years. I started out teaching 7th grade social studies, 8th grade careers, high school yearbook, and English I. I then switched to 11/12 Modern Literature, and English I which I taught for several years. Currently, I teach English III, English IV, Honors English III, and AP English Literature and Composition, and have been teaching these classes for a long time.

One of my fondest memories is when I used to co-direct the Musicals with Tom Clair. We did this for five years and it was a great success, hard work and fun!

The teaching staff and students here is what makes it a pleasure. It is a cohesive unit that is truly focused on what the best educational practices are for our students.

Thank you, Kingsley High School, for a wonderful experience. Throughout my years at KHS, I have coached V/JV cheerleading, directed the Musicals, been the Class Advisor for several different classes, acted as the National Honor Society advisor, and I have been a chaperone for the Outdoor Adventure Club where we went on adventures out west, and in the UP.

There are so many memories that I will cherish but it is time for me to say goodbye and look forward to this new chapter in my life - I'll never have to grade another essay, yippee!"

Missy Newell, Kingsley High School

"I have worked for Kingsley Schools for 25 years, and this is my 35th year in education! I have taught at both Kingsley Middle School and Kingsley High School. Fun facts - I taught both my daughter and son twice. The most rewarding part of teaching is helping students learn, develop and grow.

I will miss the interaction with students and coworkers and I'll also miss the KHS Drama Club, but I'm really looking forward to traveling with my husband in retirement! We bought a camper last summer so we'll definitely do some camping and traveling."

Justine Rinehart, Kingsley Middle School

"I can't even talk about [my retirement]," Mrs. Rinehart said, choking up. "I just love sixth grade because they're still kids and you see the kid in them, but you can still have meaningful conversations as well because they're old enough to do that.

"My classes were all about practicing good science and good science practices, recognizing evidence, making claims based on evidence, thinking a little deeper to make inferences and lab safety. We did a lot of hands-on activities. "

Kay Wagner, Kingsley Middle School

"I started here in 1978. My favorite part of the job is watching these kids grow from adolescence to young people that are ready to go on to high school. They're halfway between wanting to be babies to being adults. It's a challenge. In retirement, I think I would like to go and read books or help somebody read, like a mentor. I would like to go out there and volunteer." To read the entire feature on Mrs. Wagner, click here.

....and congratulations to Todd Vanslembrouck, Assistant Facilities Director, who is retiring this year. We wish you nothing but the best.

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