Teachers prepare for their final farewells

Seven teachers and counselors will be retiring this year after decades spent teaching at Millard West


Photo courtesy of Janet Butler

Pictured left to right Linda Brewer, Susan Hancock, Lori Scolaro, Janet Butler, Patty Knudson, Valarie Wentworth and Kathleen Burkett.

Madelyn Christiansen, Staff Reporter

As the end of the school year approaches, students are getting ready to say goodbye to this past year and say hello to summer. Seniors will have their last goodbyes and celebrate the end of the past four years spent at Millard West. But for seven Millard West teachers and counselors, they will be saying goodbye to the past 13 to 26 years of their careers. 

Every May teachers wrap up the year and enjoy an eight week break before coming back to school to prepare for the new round of students. Although for Linda Brewer, Janet Butler, Kathleen Burket, Susan Hancock, Patty Knudson, Lori Scolaro, and Valarie Wentworth this May they will be saying goodbye to Millard West for good. 

Susan Hancock has been working for Millard for 35 years with 16 years spent at Millard South and 19 years spent at Millard West. Because most of her career has been within the Millard school district, she has very mixed feelings about leaving. 

“My feelings about retirement are bittersweet,” Hancock said. “I love what I do and will really miss all the students, staff and parents, but I am looking forward to being retired.”

Hancock is looking forward to doing more volunteer work at the food bank and retirement homes. She also plans on continuing her work with the grief loss group here at Millard West by volunteering at Grief’s Journey. 

There will also be two new teachers in the business department as both Janet Butler and Lori Scolaro are retiring this year. Both of these teachers have been the DECA advisors for the past few decades and taught business classes at Millard West. Butler has been teaching at West since it opened 26 years ago, and has been working for the district for the past 36 years. Scolaro joined Millard West just a year after Butler and has been teaching alongside her ever since. 

“I will miss seeing my students and especially my coworkers every day,” Butler said. “I have been here since the beginning and have made a lot of friendships along the way.” 

Though we are back in school this year, all the retiring teachers are missing out on a lot of traditions and celebrations that have happened in previous years. Covid-19 has not only taken away these important recognitions that teachers deserve, but also has made their last year of teaching one of the most difficult and challenging years of their careers. Special Education teacher Kathleen Burket, has been at Millard West for the past 17 years of her teaching career. She will miss all the people she has worked with throughout her years but she will not miss teaching in a pandemic. 

“Hybrid teaching with in-person students and online students is the most difficult task I have ever had as an educator,” Burket said. “I’m very glad I have had an experience like this before I retire, it will give me more admiration for my peers that are still teaching.”

Others such as Language arts teacher Patty Knudson are retiring because of the health risks Covid-19 has. Knudson left a long career in the media industry to become a teacher, and she has been at West since her student teaching days. She has since been a para for two years and worked as a teacher for the past 13 years.Knudson has loved working with teenagers and will miss the students the most. She decided to retire this year because of the pandemic, she has not been able to see her family because of the health risk. 

“While teaching this year I have not been able to see my grandkids, my sons, daughter, or son-in-law,” Knudson said. “This pandemic has put a greater emphasis on the importance of family. 

These teachers and counselors have devoted their time and passion to the students here at Millard West. Most of them spent almost their entire career not only at Millard West but in the Millard district helping students and parents along the way. Although this year is very different to years past these staff members persevered and made it to the end. Thank you for all the help over the years and dedication put into the students and alumni of Millard West. Congratulations and enjoy retirement.