Marshalltown Schools retirees celebrated

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS – Retiring Woodbury third grade teacher Rita Byers, right, enjoys a series of humorous gifts from her colleague Sue Cahill, left, at the Marshalltown Schools-Marshalltown Education Association Retirement Tea Wednesday.

Each year, leaders from Marshalltown Schools and the Marshalltown Education Association come together to celebrate a new class of retirees from the district.

The retirees were joined by their family in Dejardin Hall Wednesday evening to celebrate their combined centuries of service in education.

“We’ve got, as I added up, nearly 250 years of combined service to the Marshalltown Schools. The folks we are recognizing today have given over three lifetimes to our schools,” said Marshalltown School Board member Sean Heitmann. “The impact that they’ve had on generations of students cannot truly be measured. Tens of thousands of students who, today, continue to reap the rewards of lessons you taught to them.”

A handful of the retirees were spotlighted, including outgoing Woodbury Elementary third grade teacher Rita Byers. Her friend and school mentor coach Sue Cahill spoke on behalf of Byers.

“I was just extremely fortunate to have Rita student teach in my kindergarten classroom at Woodbury,” Cahill said. “There is something to be said about the non-traditional teacher who has mother experience.”

Byers’ path to becoming a teacher was non-traditional. Before starting as a third grade teacher in 2007, she said she held jobs ranging from waitress to welder and truck driver to seamstress.

“You are never done teaching, and you are never done learning,” Byers said.

Another retiree highlighted Wednesday was longtime school nurse Elly Mack. Marshalltown High School nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford had kind words for her colleague.

“She is the most caring, compassionate nurse that I know,” Tool-Crawford said.

Mack said she loved working as a school nurse and forming relationships with students and community members.

“I’m just kind of anxious to start a new chapter in my life,” she said. “I’m going to miss the people and the kids, that’s for sure.”

Heitmann said all of the retirees leaving this spring will be missed by the district.

“Each of you has spent a career dedicated to one of life’s highest callings – service to others,” he said. “You have served our children, and in doing so helped create a better and brighter future.”

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Contact Adam Sodders at 641-753-6611 or

asodders@timesrepublican.com