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A bridge to retirement
KINGSTON — Sue Dazey and Robert Deweese began working in the North Kitsap School District’s Options program in the early 1990s when the program was still young.
With about 32 years of combined teaching experience in the district, the two helped build the program into what it is today. Now, a 16-foot-long, 7-foot-wide foot bridge stands in front of the Options classrooms outside Gordon Elementary School in honor of Dazey and Deweese as they move on to retirement.
“We sent a group of kids to (Spencer West’s) studio ... We had no clue that this is what they were doing,” Dazey said.
The two retirees knew their students would be doing a woodworking project — as part of the curriculum — at Spencer West’s West Timbercraft studio in Indianola. The surprise came with the realization that their students had worked for three weeks on their retirement gift.
“We were trying to keep the whole thing a secret,” said West, who is also a parent of an Options student.
Dazey and Deweese are two of 14 NKSD staff who retired at the end of the 2010-11 school year. The last day of school was June 15.
It took about one month to put the bridge project together. Along with the students’ help, about 12 Options parents helped build the bridge, West said.
Though the two have seen changes in the program, including people having less time to volunteer in the classroom, Dazey and Deweese agreed that the core values of the program remain intact.
Creating a community feeling in the classroom — more like an extended family — is an aspect unique to Options, Deweese said. This has allowed Options alumni to continue their education with confidence, he said.
“Whoever inherits our job, you’re teaching from a position of incredible strength,” Deweese said.
Though both are retired, Dazey and Deweese said they will continue to work with the community.
Dazey has signed up to help with Options Mystery Dinner Theater and plans to help with Gordon Elementary’s Passport Program. She has also renewed her credentials to be a substitute teacher if needed.
Deweese is planning a production of “Hamlet” with Options alumni who have recently graduated from college. He said this summer he hopes to help direct in the Port Gamble Theater — helping out after school in drama is another possibility.
Personalizing the bridge
To personalize the bridge, a fish is engraved on the first overhead beam on one side and the comedy/tragedy drama masks on the other.
The fish represents Dazey, who began fishing in 1981 after she and her husband travelled with a friend to Alaska. The couple ended up crewing their friends boat and becoming hooked on the sport — they continue to fish each year and can be seen at the Poulsbo Marina selling their catch.
The mask on the other side, represents Deweese. Deweese started the drama program 12 years ago. Each class holds at least one to two performances each year now, he said.
An inscription, carved into a plank of wood by Dazey, will soon be attached to the bridge. It reads: "To Our Options Family, A bridge is mostly something to build and use to connect who we are, and who we can be, with each other and with the world. Whether a bridge is built to last centuries, or is a fleeting gesture of love, the real memorial is what we shared: Our brainstorming, our sweat, our laughs, out problem solving, How we changed things until it worked, and how we celebrated. With deep appreciation to our fellow bridge builders, Bob and Sue Spring, 2011."
The bridge is made out of red cedar.
- Here’s a list of all employees retiring this year.
- Barb Andersen, 18 years: secretary, District Student Support Services.
- Dorothy Anderson, 15 years: paraeducator, Pearson Elementary.
- Barb Bartholomew, 12 years: office manager, Poulsbo Elementary.
- Cassandra Compton, 2 years: teacher, Breidablik Elementary.
- Sue Dazey, 15 years: Options teacher, Gordon Elementary.
- Bob Deweese, 17 years: Options teacher, Gordon Elementary.
- Jackie Grable, 31 years: teacher, Gordon Elementary.
- April Grigar, 33 years: computer technician, Poulsbo Elementary.
- Cheryl Hannah, 25 years: teacher, Poulsbo Elementary.
- Betty Petersen, 31.5 years: paraeducator, Suquamish Elementary.
- Kathy Prasch, 5 years: principal, North Kitsap High School
- Mary Lou Reister, 29 years: special education paraeducator, Breidablik Elementary.
- Patricia Sheehan, 15 years: teacher, Poulsbo Elementary.
- Kel Wilson, 6 years: teacher, Kingston High School.