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Five more retire from Oxford Schools



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June 29, 2011 - For five long-time Oxford Schools employees, the end of the 2010-11 year constituted the end of their careers as they retired from the district.

For Pamela Brooks, who had been working as a paraprofessional for 17 years, the moment was bittersweet.

"I felt that it was time and my husband has been retired for a few years and as much as I like working, I wouldn't mind going away in the winter because our winters are getting longer every year," Brooks said.

During her career with the district, she has been a noontime aide at Oxford Middle School and Clear Lake Elementary, spent 4 years at Daniel Axford teaching title one Math, and has been a library media paraprofessional at DA and the middle school for the last 12.

"I think OCS is a wonderful school district, wonderful place to raise your kids and I have just worked with some really dedicated people that the kids are their cause and that is why they are there," Brooks said.

Brooks said the biggest thing she was going to miss were the students and the staff she worked with.

"There (are) just some super dedicated people that I have worked with...not only with my kids teachers, but the staff that I have worked with at several schools," Brooks said.

However, retirement isn't going to slow Brooks down. After returning from a trip to the Canadian Rockies, Brooks would like to do some volunteer work with the district.

Her goal is to approach the subject of bullying with parents, teachers and staff all across the district.

"The seventh grade does a unit on WWII, and part of that includes the Holocaust, so I was in touch with a Holocaust survivor who recently brought her to school as a guest speaker and I would like to get involved more," Brooks said.

"My goal would be to move it out of seventh grade and pull it throughout the whole district," she added.

Brooks said the town of Ishpeming banded together to do an anti-hate, anti-bullying campaign in the schools after hearing the same message the seventh graders heard.

"Children aren't born to hate people; they aren't born prejudice, and I guess that is something that has been close to me that I feel strongly about," Brooks said. "I think this community could benefit, not just the children, but the adults as well."

One thing Brooks would like to see is the district administration have more of a presence in the schools.

"I would like to see the new administration get closer to the new staff and more visible in the schools," Brooks said. "I haven't seen that and I have been through a few administrations."

"I hope they don't lose that contact with what they are doing...we know the issues and we know the focus is global, and I have nothing against global, but don't forget we have that motto it's the kids first," she added.

Also retiring from years of service is Janet Pawlek, who served 14 years as a Media Specialist at all the elementaries in the district.

Pawlek decided to retire after the district eliminated her position. She will be moving to North Carolina to be near her oldest son and two grandchildren.

"The biggest thing that sticks out in my mind is the children, and that is the hardest thing to leave," Pawlek said. "I had wonderful colleagues and I felt honored to work with all the people at all the schools."

She added some of her biggest thrills while working in the district was setting up the Lakeville Elementary library. "For a librarian, that is a once in a lifetime opportunity that most people do not get the chance to do. That was wonderful," she said.

She also helped create the district's online library, Follett Shelf, in February.

According to Pawlek, the online library is accessible through the school district's website and currently has 550 books online students can check out.

"The kids thought it was pretty cool," she said.

Currently there have been a total of 4,500 circulations on those books.

In addition to Brooks and Pawlek retiring, paraprofessional Dorothy Graham and bus driver Paul White also retired at the end of the school year.

District accountant Jan Salas will be retiring in August.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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