SALAMANCA — Three teachers retiring from Prospect Elementary School were recognized by the Salamanca Board of Education last week for their more than 80 years combined service.
Of the three retirees, physical education teacher Colleen Wiedman had taught the longest with 35 years, followed closely Tamera Krotje, also a physical education teacher at Prospect, with 33.5 years. Mary Kay Oyler, a pre-K teacher, taught for 19 years.
Present at the board meeting were Wiedman and Krotje, who were introduced together by District Superintendent Robert Breidenstein because “they’re kind of like a package set.”
Breidenstein said both Wiedman and Krotje have served as physical education teachers in several different capacity, coaching or attending more school sporting events than most could imagine.
Reading a message from Prospect Principal Gail Pavone, Breidenstein said Wiedman and Krotje have been the “dynamic duo” at Prospect, saying it’s hard to imagine one without the other because they have embodied teamwork in the department.
“They complete each other and are able to fill in any gap that may exist in the building,” Pavone wrote. “They have been instrumental in helping the students ... develop a love of athletics and physical activity — particularly rollerblading.”
In addition to the physical education classes, Wiedman and Krotje are instrumental in several annual school activities, such as the Santa’s Workshop in the gym and the Prospect Fun Day held at the end of the year.
“The work that they do behind the scenes is probably not even known and will be felt as soon as they leave because they do so much for the building and for kids,” Pavone wrote. “They make coming to school for our children and our colleagues fun, and they just make Prospect great.”
Breidenstein said Wiedman and Krotje have been tremendous coaches for many years, often stepping up when the district had trouble filling coaching positions.
“They have truly been the embodiment and backbone of what it means to be a Warrior,” he said.
When accepting her recognition plaque, Wiedman said she’s never been a public speaker but expressed her thanks to everyone.
“Thank you for letting me coach and teach. I really had a great time,” Krotje said. “I am going to miss some things, and I’m not going to miss other things, but thank you for everything.”
Teaching for 19 years, Mary Kay Oyler has been one of the “strongest educators” in the district, Breidenstein said.
“If you’ve been in her classroom with about a dozen 4-year-olds, many of them come still 3, they are a bundle,” he said. “And Mary Kay has them in short order, marching and following orders like they’ve been doing it their whole lives.”
Breidenstein said Oyler works with many service providers, therapists and parents and is the first one to welcome many students and their families.
“She is the gatekeeper of the Warrior way,” he added. “They love Mary Kay, and they love their preschool experience.”
IN ADDITION TO the three retirements, several staff members reached important milestones or just began their careers in Salamanca at the meeting.
The school board approved the tenure of two teachers, Lisa Burch and Erin Benjamin; the appointment of Rich Pincoski, the director of buildings and grounds, to director of facilities II; appointment of Josie Hubbard as office manager; hiring of Robert Miller to director of educational technology and information services; and the hiring of Jennifer Tyra as an elementary reading teacher.