From left, Carol Miles, Carol Burney and QES Principal Lara Hollister congratulate retiring Speech Aide Ellie Heiman at the June 19 school board meeting in Quincy. Heiman was recognized for her outstanding service to PUSD students with communication disabilities. Photos by Roni Java

School board honors retirees, says farewell to QES teacher Bette Burney

The Plumas Unified School District’s Governing Board of Trustees congratulated seven retiring employees with distinguished service records ranging from six to 35 years at the June 19 meeting in Quincy.

Trustees Leslie Edlund, president of the school board; Dave Keller; Dwight Pierson; and Traci Holt, clerk of the board; were on hand to recognize their accomplishments and offer thanks. Trustee Joleen Cline was unable to attend.

The evening began with cake and laughter as applause filled the meeting room and stories were shared by friends who came to wish the dedicated staffers well in their new lives of leisure.

Steve Popish, maintenance-ops


“Well, actually, we’d better go because he has two more days of work!” joked Ray Bakker, the district’s Maintenance and Operations supervisor as employee Steve Popish received his plaque from PUSD Superintendent Terry Oestreich.

Honored for 35 years of service to local schools throughout the district, Popish was ribbed and recognized in turns by Bakker, PUSD Safety Officer Frank Carey and Ken Pierson, retired Maintenance-Ops and Transportation supervisor.

“He began as a custodian at Portola and he’s been there for me every time I needed to know where something was,” Bakker said.

“There’s a lot of knowledge going out this door,” Carey said. “I’ve known you more than 20 years, thank you my friend. You’ve taught me a lot.”

The crowd was impressed with Popish’s long commitment and Patty McCutcheon, executive assistant to Superintendent Oestreich, said with affection, “He had a very busy job, no wonder he retired!”

Ellie Heiman, speech aide


Ellie Heiman received her recognition plaque for combined service of 18 years in speech therapy at PUSD schools.

To commend Heiman, Quincy Elementary School Principal Lara Hollister joined retired PUSD employees Carol Miles and Carol Burney.

“I’ve seen the impact she’s had on students and the love they have for her,” Hollister said with a smile. “We are very grateful for everything she’s done for us.”

Burney told the school board and audience of family and friends that Heiman “spent an incredible amount of time working with her students. And she always maintained a high level of professionalism.”

Miles stepped forward and had to take a moment before honoring her colleague because she was holding back tears.

“Ellie began in Greenville, working with students with severe communication disabilities,” Miles said. “Over her career, she worked one-on-one with QES students, was a resource for staff and students from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade, and she had a very positive relationship with all of them. I’m really happy to welcome Ellie to the world of retirement.”


Additional service recognitions

In earlier ceremonies at their school sites, the other five district retirees were honored by their peers and management and did not attend the school board meeting.

Brenda Edwards and Richard Higby have retired from the Chester schools with 22 years of service each. Retiree Lori Metcalf was honored for 24 years of service to PUSD, also in Chester.

Julien Howe retired with recognition for six years of service to Greenville schools and Harlon Sevier was honored for his 11-year career serving Quincy.

Bye-bye, Bette

Before the evening was done, QES fourth-grade teacher Bette Burney dropped by to extend a heartfelt thank you to the PUSD administration team and school board members.

Burney said her children were helping her finish cleaning out her Quincy classroom in preparation for their big departure to relocate to India. Burney has accepted a new position with an American school in Bombay where she will serve 50 percent of her time as a resource teacher and the other half as a coach.


The family was set to leave by the beginning of July.

“I want to thank you all very much,” Burney told the board and administrators. “Thank you for serving on the school board and for being a great school district. This has been my dream job here in Quincy. I’m excited to take this new job so far away because I’m curious to see what their education practices are.”

She explained that the students at her new school will be about 20 to 30 percent from the U.S., 40 percent international and the remainder natives of India.

“I think the hardest piece of it is that here, we take it for granted that K-12 education is free and over there, everyone pays,” Burney added. “They spend $40,000 to send their kids to school.”

Superintendent Oestreich and the trustees thanked the QES teacher for her dedication and service to Quincy students.


“My granddaughter had Bette this year,” said Oestreich. “Thank you, Bette, for all the extra effort you put forth. We wish you the very best.”