Letting go after 25 years in education won’t be easy for Debbie Waller.
She is retiring as principal of Powers Elementary School, saying goodbye amid plans to knock the building down next year.
With construction of a new Powers school set to begin on North Lake Street, she said the time is right to bow out now. But it will still hurt.
“It’s going to be a sad day to walk out that door and know I’m not coming back to this great working atmosphere,” Waller said.
Waller was 40 when she graduated from Bowling Green State University with a teaching degree. In the fall of 1992, she was hired by the Amherst Schools and immediately started studying for a master’s degree.
She was named principal at Shupe Elementary School in 2004. When the building closed due to declining enrollment and rising costs, she headed to Powers.
Since then, Waller has worked to promote a five-day-a-week-family feeling within the school walls. She found reward in getting to know the people who worked at Powers, their families, their trials and tribulations. “You try to help them out. That holds for parents and kids too,” she said. “Life interferes and you become part of what they’re struggling with.”
Leaving the teaching mission behind and being home every day will be hard, she said. Waller has been preparing herself for the change but is dealing with anxiety now that the school year is almost done.
“You don’t think of the end coming, really. I’ve never had a day when I didn’t want to get up and come to work,” she said. “I can’t come to a screeching halt on June 9. I think I need to ease into the retirement piece of it.”
She wants to still work part time but said she doesn’t know where — just that she wants to stay in the education field.
She’s also excited about traveling, having some rest, and spending time with grandchildren. Laughing, Waller said her youngest grandchild will start kindergarten at Powers this fall and retirement will mean missing out on being his principal.
Waller was among the retiring staff members honored May 15 by the Amherst board of education.
Others include intervention specialist Maureen Bruder, first grade teacher Elaine D’Andrea, third grade teacher Lisa Jeskie, school psychologist Lori Kendrick, music teacher Deborah LeSuer, first grade teacher Cindy Lou Snyder, food services director Wanda Warford, and intervention specialist Annette Winemiller.
Retiring certified staff include Shirley Friedman, Scott Haber, Anna Alicea, William Allsop, Donald Buczynsky, Larry Budweg, Kamille Cocco, Beverly Kalivoda, Linda Koch, Bonni Metelsky, Patricia Saladin, Wayne Schnaak, Donna Smeltz, Theodore Stanziano, Mary Tyson, and Jeanine Walton.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.