By Debra Moore
Many beloved school district employees retired at the end of the school year and they were honored during the June 28 meeting of the Plumas Unified School District governing board. Most were not in attendance, but they were able to hear the accolades that were broadcast on YouTube.
Superintendent Bill Roderick led off the tributes and noted that “it’s said that it only takes one person to change a child’s life,” and he knows that the district’s certified and classified staff who are leaving this year have accomplished that. Following are this year’s retirees and some of the comments that were made by their supervisors and coworkers in tribute to them.
Dan Bickel from Chester Elementary. “Dan gave heart and soul to the staff and students at CES. He is an employee that went above and beyond every single day. His true joy was the students and they loved having him on campus.”
Milli Mahaffey from Chester High. “Your journey, which began as a clerk and culminated as a teacher, has been nothing short of inspirational… When you took on the mantle of a full-time teacher, it was clear that you had found your true calling…Your dedication to shaping young minds and preparing them for the future will have a lasting impact on countless lives.”
Shawn Mahaffey from Chester High. “In the classroom, Mr. Mahaffey was more than a teacher; he was a mentor, a friend and a confidant … He went above and beyond to ensure that every student felt seen, heard, and valued, inspiring them to reach their full potential and empowering them to pursue their dreams with unwavering determination.”
Denise Cadacamo from Greenville schools. She served as a special education teacher. “Denise has a deep love for her students and cares about their ongoing success at school and in the community…Students respect and love her. They will often cite her as someone whose positive influence is very important in their lives.”
Marci Hutchison from Greenville schools. She worked in nutrition services for 31 years. “She not only served up warm meals to our students with a smile, but she also provided them with encouragement and personal connection.”
Laura Blesse from Quincy Elementary/admin. “Laura Blesse has worked in our district for 26 years in multiple capacities. She has been a teacher, administrator and SELPA director. Thank you Laura for changing so many lives, one day at a time.”
Nancy Sipe from Quincy Elementary: “For the past 35 years Nancy taught kindergarten, first, second, fourth, and fifth grades and intervention. Nancy feels blessed and fortunate to have taught over 800 students in Plumas County.”
Helene Lemnah from Quincy Elementary: “Helene Lemnah is a creative powerhouse. From math and literature to art, Helene’s teaching is full of energy and innovation… Quincy Elementary won’t be the same without her.”
Sharla Satterfield from Greenville and Quincy: “As a librarian, she’s been a creative force, finding ways to bring learning and literacy to students even during tough times of budget cuts and the pandemic. Sharla is an icon among school librarians.”
Patti Brackett from Quincy High: “Anyone who knows Miss Patty knows that she is kind, nurturing, and wants what is best not only for the students she works directly with, but also for all students and staff.”
Janet Radtke from Quincy High: She has been the registrar for 15 years. “Not only was Janet meticulous in her record keeping of student records, transcripts, and attendance, she also has an immense love for the students and staff. This has been evident in her Hoopla videos, announcing the red carpet at prom, and sharing favorite memories and next endeavors for our seniors at graduation.”
Laurie Conte from C. Roy Carmichael: Long-time teacher. “Laurie Conte is the strongest, most brave human I know. She has the biggest heart and gave 100 percent to her students and our staff every day. “
Mark Womack from Portola High School: “From pre-algebra to AP calculus, Mr. Womack has taught every math course on our campus over his 28-year career. Mark was known for his rigorous classes, and he taught all of them with a passion for mathematics that was unmatched… Mark not only taught students math, he taught them to be problem solvers. He also helped students realize that anything is possible — from working with the Hadron Collider in France to pursuing careers in engineering. He was a true inspiration to his students.”
Susan Frediani from Quincy High School, admin: “Susan Frediani is legendary here at PUSD.” Assistant Superintendent Kristy Warren said she has impacted the lives of hundreds of students in the classroom and through her work on the college board. She continues to train teachers on how to teach AP English. Warren used three words to describe Susan: experienced, inspirational and dedicated.
Brad Miller from Portola High and adult ed. Warren described Brad Miller as a longtime educator and athletic director who impacted his students. The three words she used to describe Brad were: energetic, humorous, and athletic.
Karen Miller from Portola High and adult ed. Karen Miller has taught English at all levels, including AP English. She concluded her career with adult ed. Warren used these three words to describe Karen: passionate, influential and artistic.
Ray Hemsley: school bus driver for 30 years. The district’s transportation supervisor, Kyle Bakker, lauded Hemsley. “For him it was all about the kids,” Bakker said. Even when he was deciding when to retire he wanted to do it when it would be best for the students. “He was my school bus driver,” Bakker said, and since his was the last stop, he would move up to the front seat to visit with Hemsley. “Talked baseball from the time I sat there until the time I got off the bus,” he said. Bakker guessed that between driving kids to school, sporting events, and field trips — just about everyone knew him.
When the individual accolades were completed, the school board members expressed their appreciation to all of the retirees and what they have meant to the students and the school district.