After 32 years of nurturing and teaching children, Dawn Johnston of Marshalltown retired Tuesday from her position at Tiger Tots Child Care at Marshalltown Community College.
Johnston said she would have "mixed emotions" at the end.
"It will be tough," she said.
T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
Dawn Johnston of Marshalltown is shown demonstrating how to roll clay Tuesday morning at Tiger Tots Child Care.
The need to have an imminent surgical procedure provided the motivation to step away, she said.
"I will be recovering quite a while after surgery, so I thought now would be a good time to retire ... still, it was a hard decision."
Tiger Tots is part of Marshall County Child Care Services, and it was to MCCS where Johnston applied for a job nearly 27 years ago. Previously, she worked five years as a registered home care provider.
Mary Burns, Tiger Tots director, said Johnston was the first person she hired in a role as supervisor.
"Dawn was one of 50 applicants," said Burns. "That group was reduced to 10 interviewees, and she was hired."
"I selected the right one," said Burns with a smile. "And Dawn has influenced the lives of many children here in Marshalltown and has influenced their parents as well."
Johnston began her career 32 years ago as a certified home care provider, and worked five years in home before moving on to MCCS.
Burns, with nearly 30 years in the business, said it is unusual to see the kind of devotion Johnston displayed for children for someone with that length of service.
"She will be missed," Burns said.
Johnston said it was thrilling to watch children she cared for grow up to be successful young adults.
She specifically cited one young woman, who she cared for as an infant, recently accepted into a NASA internship program.
"And you feel very proud," Johnston said. "You see them on the swim team, active in gymnastics and other endeavors ... I was very happy for all of them."