After decades of dedicated service to the Allendale Public School District, several staff members are retiring this year. With plans to volunteer, go off-schedule, or spend time with family, the future looks busy for staff retiring this year, including:
- With a lifetime of experience in Allendale, Elementary Teacher Annette Borst is retiring after 28 years of service to APS. Prior to APS, Ms. Borst taught in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and in Texas, in the Houston, Independent School District. Annette fondly remembers her first interaction with APS as a kindergarten student in Mrs. Carpenter’s class. Moving through her school years at Allendale, then leaving and returning to Michigan, Annette offered her students and colleagues a seasoned perspective along with professional service and teaching skills. Highly engaged with her students and the district, Annette names “reading an actual book and sharing it with my class,” as a favorite memory—one that helped instill a love of literature in the children who passed through her classroom. Reflecting on her career and a word or two she might leave for others who follow, Annette suggests “carve out more time for family.” Adding to that, Annette notes, “My faith is a big part of my life, I am proud of it. I feel blessed to have served the children in this community…to have served.” Annette looks forward to being “off-schedule” for the first time in 35 years. With ideas in mind for volunteer and possibly mission work, it seems clear service to her community will remain a big part of Annette’s life.
- Since 1978, Kathy Murphy has served as an Instructional Aide. Working in elementary, middle school, and early childhood environments, Ms. Murphy loves her job working with children. Originally from Evart, Kathy moved to Coopersville, and then Allendale, starting with APS at the original campus building on Lake Michigan Drive. Kathy says she has seen a lot of changes over her 38 year tenure with APS, “some good, some not-so-good.” A real plus, Kathy notes, is her observation that “children in Allendale are very kind to each other, loving, I am going to miss it.” As the Allendale Class of 2016 makes its initial career choices, Kathy remembers hers. “I tried several times to get work as a secretary, it never happened. This did.” Confident in her faith, and happy for how her career worked out, Kathy notes, “I was supposed to do this.” In the next season of life, Kathy plans to travel with her husband, spend time with her mother and 14 grandchildren, and garden. Though she will miss her job, she has no question that it is the right thing to retire now.
- Serving APS for 28 years, Kitchen Team Leader Denise Vruggink is also leaving APS this year. Originally from Allendale, Ms. Vruggink began her career with APS at the original campus building on Lake Michigan Drive. Starting as a Substitute in Food Services, Denise worked her way up. As she retires, she leaves a position where she oversaw food services in the middle school—supervising food service staff, and ensuring more than 330 children per day had lunch, and oftentimes, breakfast too. Reflecting on what she looked forward to at APS, Denise notes, “What keeps me going is the people you work with. We have fun at our jobs, and the rewards you get from the kids, to see them, and get to know them. Through my years, I picked up students that needed a little extra TLC, say a few extra words, and as time goes on, they are your friend.“ In years when budget constraints were not as tight, Denise remembers the benefits of attending conferences, networking, and hearing how other school districts handled issues. As parting advice, Denise says, “have fun at your job, be flexible, and roll with the punches. Every day is a different day.” With seven grandchildren to keep her busy, Denise is happy to retire, but unsure how she will feel when school starts in the fall. She has plans to camp, read, walk, and take it one day at a time. Denise relates that she promised one granddaughter that when she graduated from eighth grade and moved on from the middle school—that Denise would move on too. On her last day of work at APS, Denise held a large bouquet of beautiful red roses that her granddaughter—now moving into ninth grade—brought her that morning. Now, they are both moving on from middle school.
- Elementary Principal Jill Wilson has dedicated 32 years of service to APS. Originally from Jenison, Ms. Wilson began with the district as an Elementary Teacher in Special Education. After that, she transitioned through positions including first grade Teacher, lower elementary Assistant Principal and then Principal, Literacy Coordinator, and Reading Recovery Teacher. For several years, Jill has been the Elementary Principal at Springview and Evergreen elementary schools. Singling out a favorite memory is tough for Jill. As she notes, “Every single day that I have been here has been refreshingly different. If you have the privilege to work with children, they will keep it fresh.” Commenting on the support she received throughout her years at APS, Jill says, “We have a wonderful school district, so much to be proud of.” Jill adds that she has a wish that “those who legislate need to be in the schools talking to the amazing educators who are impacting our students.” As she leaves one road for another, Jill reminds us, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Moving forward, Jill plans to reduce intensity and open up time to make more choices. Hoping to give back more to a family that has been supportive throughout her career, Jill is looking forward to travel—and being the best grandma that she can. In closing, Jill says, “I want to thank the Allendale community for your support and encouragement. It is hard to think of leaving, but I am confident that amazing celebrations will happen in the years ahead. Thank you for blessing my life in so many ways!”
- Employed by the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD), physical therapist Linda Stone, who worked primarily in the elementary setting, is retiring after more than 20 years serving APS children and families.
Thank you and best wishes to all those retiring this year from Allendale Public Schools.