Left to right, Diane Ball, John McMain and Beth Spaulding. (Heather Spaulding/staff photo)

Left to right, Diane Ball, John McMain and Beth Spaulding. (Heather Spaulding/staff photo)

School district honors retirees

Graduates are not the only ones taking a leap forward in their lives this summer. Elementary school principal Diane Ball, middle school teacher John McMain and high school teacher Beth Spaulding are all retiring.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service,” Superintendent Kari McVeigh told the trio at the San Juan Island School District meeting Wednesday, May 29. Ball, McMain and Spaulding were all given flowers and hugs from the board.

McVeigh gave a brief introduction to Ball, whose tenure at the Friday Harbor Elementary School has been for six years. Her career in education, however, began in 1991 at a Catholic school. She became interested in music and the performing arts.

“You have done a lot of directing, a lot of making sure people come together,” McVeigh told Ball at the meeting. “What I know is, when you go off to retirement, you will continue to direct.”

McVeigh also noted the major changes Ball has weathered at the school, citing curriculum changes as one such example. Those changes have been successful, she added, because Ball took extra time to be sure everyone knew what had to happen in order for those new programs to be implemented.

Friday Harbor High School principal Fred Woods told the crowd how he first met Spaulding.

“There was a typo on the staff directory, Best Spaulding, but there was no Best,” he said with a laugh.

Spaulding has been a math teacher at the school for more than 20 years.

“I substituted for seven years before that,” she said, noting she and her husband moved to the island in 1992. To put that in perspective, if the average class size has 20 students, and assuming she had one class per year, Spaulding has been instrumental in teaching an estimated 540 youth mathematics over the nearly three decades at the school.

Woods continued on to talk about McMain as well.

“He never sees the negative, he is always positive,” Woods said of McMain, commenting that the teachers “Happy Monday” refrain caused him to rethink his own perceptions of the first weekday. Although he teaches middle school English, as well as photography and computer projects, McMain originally majored in math during college. McMain has been an educator for 32 years, starting in Colorado, as well as spending many years in California before joining the San Juan School District 16 years ago.

“He is going to be really missed, especially by middle schoolers,” Woods told attendees.

McVeigh then announced a break for the school district meeting, so friends and family could congratulate and thank the educators.

“Every good retirement party has cake and beverages, so please, help yourselves,” McVeigh said, pointing to a large chocolate cake.