40-year elementary teacher named Albion’s ‘educator of the year’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 June 2013 at 12:00 am

Mary Miesner has taught hundreds of second-graders

Photos by Tom Rivers – Mary Miesner reacts after being named Albion’s ‘Educator of the Year’ for the 2012-13 school year. Miesner has been teaching in the district for 40 years. Margy Brown, BOE president, is at right.

ALBION – A teacher with 40 years of service to elementary school students, beginning at the former Waterport Elementary School, was honored tonight as Albion’s 2012-13 “Educator of the Year.”

Mary Miesner was praised for mentoring other teachers and showing so much dedication to her students, about 1,000 different kids over her career. She is retiring later this month.

Elementary School Principal Jim Wood called her “an outstanding team player.” Miesner has been nominated for the award several times over her career.

“She personifies respect, responsibility and optimism,” Margy Brown, the Board of Education president, said about Miesner and the district’s three guiding principles.

Miesner has welcomed firefighters into her classroom and the school to teach students about fire prevention and safety. Her son Lee is active with the Albion Fire Department.

Before she was named ‘Educator of the Year,’ Mary Miesner was recognized for her impending retirement by Elementary School Principal Jim Wood, left, and Michael Bonnewell, the district’s superintendent.

Wood said Miesner has been a quiet leader, and a dependable teacher for her entire career.

“I’m the luckiest person,” Miesner said after receiving the award. “I’ve had a job I love for 40 years. Every year is a new start, a chance to broaden your horizons.”

Miesner considered retiring about three years ago. Her husband Ron was battling cancer. He urged her to keep working. He died in October 2010.

Miesner said she immersed herself in her job after her husband’s death.

“I needed the students,” she said.

She praised her co-workers, who refer to her as the “den mother” of the second grade teachers. Miesner taught second grade her entire career, except for the year she was acting principal at Waterport, a year she also taught fifth grade.

Three other former Waterport staff also are retiring after this school year. Kim Houserman was principal at Waterport, beginning in 1985, before moving to the middle school. Houserman worked 39 years in education, including the past 28 years at Albion in administration. Houserman said he has enjoyed a career mostly in the middle school, which he said “is full of energy and excitement.”

The following retiring teachers and staff were recognized by the Board of Education on Monday for the service to the district. The group includes, from left: Cathy Schwenk, Mary Ellen Gillard, Darlene Devine, Gail Nasca, Dan Shuler, Kim Houserman, Mary Miesner and Bonnie Adduci.

Darlene Devine, a music and art teacher, is retiring after 26 years at Albion. She also started in the Waterport school, which closed in 1989.

Cathy Schwenk, a special education teacher, is retiring after 33 years. She also worked in Waterport.

Miesner, Houserman, Devine and Schwenk are the last links to the school among the current staff.

“We can now say the Waterport school is officially closed,” Houserman said tonight at a reception for retiring teachers and others with milestone service anniversaries.

The district honored other retiring staff, including Dan Shuler who has worked 35 years with Buildings and Grounds, including 31 years as superintendent. He has been influential in a maintaining a beautiful, well-kept campus that is the envy of many other schools, said Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent.

Gail Nasca is retiring after 18 years as a middle school English teacher. Mary Ellen Gillard is ending her career. She served in several roles in the past 11 years, including Even Start director, a third grade teacher and academic intervention service teacher. Bonnie Adduci also is retiring after six years as a nurse in the elementary school.