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‘A great day’ for longtime teacher

Clary Carlsen visits with his granddaughter during a retirement party last week. Carlsen retires after teaching 35 years in the North Kitsap School District.                                                   - Greg Braun / Contributed
Clary Carlsen visits with his granddaughter during a retirement party last week. Carlsen retires after teaching 35 years in the North Kitsap School District.
— image credit: Greg Braun / Contributed

POULSBO — When the staff and students of Poulsbo Middle School reflect on Physical Education instructor Clary Carlsen’s 35 years in the North Kitsap School District, there are four words everyone will most likely remember: What a great day.

“He has this attitude that makes it really easy to be around him,” sixth-grade science teacher Greg Braun said.

Braun worked at Poulsbo Middle School with Carlsen, 62, for about 24 years. Carlsen had a welcoming and inclusive attitude, he said. He was fun to be around.

Carlsen’s favorite saying, “What a great day,” could be heard in the halls of the middle school; it didn’t matter if it was sunny or pouring rain, Braun said.

That saying known schoolwide — and possibly beyond — was echoed during the June 13 school board meeting, when Carlsen and 21 other district employees were recognized before their retirement at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

“What a great day,” Carlsen said to a cheery group after being recognized at the board meeting.

Karla DeVries worked alongside Carlsen for the past 12 years in the gymnasium. Along with being one of the healthiest men she knows, she said he was a great role model for the students. The two P.E. instructors helped the students learn how important fitness is, and did so with a good sense of humor.

“[The students] are going to remember his positive outlook,” DeVries said. “His greatest claim to fame — his motto, ‘What a great day.’ He lived it.” Carlsen taught a total of 39 years. He worked in Wenatchee before coming to the North Kitsap School District. He also coached more than 90 seasons of sports at the middle and high school level. He retired from coaching in 2010. He coached football, basketball, volleyball, baseball and track and field.

But Carlsen is also a family man. He has four sons, and three grandchildren. He’s an avid fisherman and gardener as well.

On Thursday, Carlsen was down at the family cabin preparing it for the summer. It’s a well-used cabin — built in the 1940s — that Carlsen makes sure is ready for the foot traffic.

Carlsen isn’t worried about staying busy in his retirement, he said.

“My wife has a list that will keep me busy for at least five or six years,” he said of all his honey-do projects. However, those projects may take closer to 10 years, as he might decide to take his time.

Though he still loves teaching, and is not tired of working with students, Carlsen said he just needs more time to spend with family. DeVries said, “He was just as great in his last year [at the middle school]” as the first time the two taught together.

Carlsen’s retirement is a great thing, Braun said, but it’s also a loss for the school.

Carlsen may be retiring at just the right time. Working in the same district for 35 years, young students often tell him he taught their parents as well. In the next few years, Carlsen said it is likely the students at Poulsbo Middle School would be telling him he taught their grandparents as well.

“I retired just before kids started saying, ‘You’ve taught my grandma and grandpa,’ ” he said. “I don’t know how I would respond to that.”

Though the district is in declining enrollment, there are many more students now than when Carlsen first began teaching in the 1970s. He’s seen the district grow from one high school and middle school to two each. He’s seen Poulsbo grow.

Carlsen was first hired as a physical education and math instructor. He taught various grade levels.

“I had a great time,” Carlsen said. “A wonderful time.”

A retirement party was held for Carlsen June 17, the last day of school. It was well-attended, DeVries said. Current and former staff members attended, she said.

Saying it will be difficult to replace Carlsen is an understatement, DeVries said. “It will be sad to not have him there for the first day of school” in 2013-14.

Carlsen feels like he is on summer vacation right now, along with all the other teachers and students. He said he will feel like he is retired in September, when everyone goes back to teaching.

But just because he’s retired, those at Poulsbo Middle School shouldn’t think they’ve seen the last of Carlsen. He’s already been asked if he wants to return to coach — which he may do in the future. He plans to make appearances at the school too.

“I fully intend to go in [to Poulsbo Middle School] and razz everyone and walk out,” he said.

District retirees

—Theresa Aubin Ahrens, Visual Communications Instructor, North Kitsap High School
Theresa has dedicated 20 years of service to NKSD. She has taught photography, Graphics, Web Design and Video.

—Patricia Bennett-Forman, Learning Specialist, Wolfle Elementary School
Pat has taught for 31 years at NKSD and 35 years in Washington. She began her teaching career in Chicago 43 years ago. During her years in North Kitsap, Pat served as Assistant Director, Special Education, Curriculum and Staff Development Director, Special Programs Director, Special Education Director, and has been the Learning Specialist at Wolfle Elementary for the last 13 years.

—Clary Carlsen, PE Instructor, Poulsbo Middle School
Clary has taught for 35 years at NKSD and 39 years total. During his career, Clary has coached over 90 seasons at the middle school and high school level. This includes Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Baseball, and Track & Field.

—Christine Cofer, Head Cook, North Kitsap High School
Christine has dedicated 23 years of service to NKSD. Christine started in the district as a supervision aide, and quickly transferred to food services. She spent time with Breidablik Elementary, Vinland Elementary, and opened the Kingston High School kitchen before moving to North Kitsap High School.

—David Dumpert, Maintenance Director, North Kitsap School District
Dave dedicated nearly 10 years of service to NKSD.

—June Estrada, Head Custodian, Vinland Elementary
June has dedicated 32 years of service to NKSD. She has worked in North Kitsap High School, Poulsbo Middle School and Vinland Elementary.

—Jayann Froderberg, Library Secretary, Kingston Middle School
Jayann has dedicated 31 years of service to NKSD. She started as a classified substitute. Jayann also worked as a Resource Room Aide at Suquamish Elementary School for several years. In addition, she has  served as PSE Union President for several years.

—Diann Hebert, Bus Driver, North Kitsap School District
Diane has dedicated 19 years of service to NKSD. She started as a supervision aide, and was a bus driver for the past 18 years, transporting children for North Kitsap High School, Poulsbo Middle School, and Poulsbo Elementary School.

Linda Hofferber, 2nd Grade Instructor, Poulsbo Elementary School
Linda has taught for 33 years at NKSD and 38 years total. During her career at North Kitsap, she taught 2nd and 3rd grade at Poulsbo Elementary.

—Randy Howe, PE Instructor, Poulsbo Elementary School
Randy has taught for 32 years at NKSD and 33 years total. Randy dedicated his career to Poulsbo Elementary, teaching 2nd, 4th, and 5th grades, and some music before moving into Physical Education.

—Christine Jamison, Health Instructor, Kingston Middle School
Chris has taught for nearly 20 years at NKSD and 30 years total. Chris has taught Family Consumer Science, health, English at Kingston Middle school and the former Kingston Junior High.

—Susan Longan, Kindergarten Instructor, Poulsbo Elementary
Susan taught at North Kitsap for 18 years, and 27 years total.

—Deborah MacKinnon, English Instructor, Parent Assisted Learning Program
Deborah has taught for 23 years at NKSD and 27 years total. During her career at North Kitsap, she taught primarily English at Kingston Junior High, Wolfle Elementary, North Kitsap High School and Kingston High School.

—Patricia Olson, PE Instructor, North Kitsap
Trish has taught for 30 years at NKSD and 35 years total. She taught at Poulsbo Junior High, Kingston Junior High, North Kitsap High School and Pearson Elementary. Trish also coached many sports during her career at North Kitsap including cross-country, track, tennis, cheer and drill team.

—Tennis Olson, Math Instructor, North Kitsap High School
Tennis has taught for 30 years, all with NKSD. The majority of his time was teaching Geometry and PreCalculus. Tennis has also served in many capacities including homecoming advisor, Athletic Director Assistant, Math Tutor, and Honors/Awards program coordinator and emcee.

—Richard Pullen, Recording Arts Technology and Digital Graphics Studio Instructor, Kingston High School
Richard has been teaching at Kingston for almost 13 years. He has taught video production, ceramics, geology and math throughout his career. Before teaching at Kingston High School, he taught at the Spectrum Community School.

—Andra Queen, Para Educator, Gordon Elementary
Andra has been with North Kitsap for 31 years. She spent the majority of her time with the students and staff at Poulsbo Middle School, and has been with Gordon Elementary for the past several years.

—Ruth Rarick, Dual Language Program, Vinland Elementary
Ruth taught in North Kitsap for 20 years and a total of nearly 29 years.

—Joyce Schultz, Learning Specialist, Poulsbo Elementary, Vinland Elementary
Joyce has taught for 23 years at NKSD and 36 years total. During her career at North Kitsap, she taught 6th Grade and 2nd Grade. Joyce has been the Learning Specialist for Poulsbo Elementary since 2000, and supported Vinland Elementary this year.

—Karen Sherwood, School Health Consultant
Karen has dedicated over twenty years with North Kitsap as a school health consultant. She has provided nursing services for several schools in our district and has most recently worked with Wolfle Elementary, Kingston Middle School and Kingston High School.

—Jill Smith, Instructional Para Educator, Wolfle Elementary School
Jill has dedicated 31 years of service to NKSD. She began as a classified substitute, and worked as a supervision aide. During her years at NKSD, she also held several secretarial assignments. Jill has been at Wolfle Elementary for her entire career.

—Chuck Whitmer, Maintenance Lead, North Kitsap School District
Chuck has dedicated 24 years of service to NKSD.

*Information provided by the North Kitsap School District

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