The Neosho R-5 School District and Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce honored some of the district's most dedicated educators and said goodbye to 11 retiring staff members on Thursday afternoon at the district's annual recognition reception.
The Chamber of Commerce's Education Committee recognized this year's winners of the Gold Star Teacher of the Year Award, which were: Yvonne McClintock, Beth Hunt, Sherry Hoover and Cindy Aldrich.
McClintock, who works as a special education teacher at Benton Elementary, was introduced by the district's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction and former Benton principal Glenda Condict.
Condict noted that McClintock had retired from teaching once before, when she had taught at the Neosho Middle School.
"Upon begging her to return at a very special level, at special ed with high needs, this person had the patience, had the perseverance, had the relationship not only with the students but with the parents," Condict said. "[She] is very high on my list with integrity, has a compassion with all children but an ultimate compassion for teaching, more so for learning."
"When Glenda asked me to start teaching again, I didn't think I'd ever do it. When I came back, I loved it," McClintock said. "There's a lot of things in education that change and it's getting harder for you to come to school every day, because it's hard. But we're not doing it because it's hard, we come to school because we can make a difference."
Meanwhile, Hunt, a fifth grade math and science teacher at the Neosho Middle School, was recognized by middle school principal Dr. Doretta Fox for her work ethic and passion for education.
"This teacher is incredibly humble and leads with a servant's heart," Fox said. "She is an intelligent, hard-working individual who demonstrates a passion for students, student learning and making a positive difference."
The junior high award recipient was eighth grade English teacher Hoover, who was recognized in several nomination letters as being fair and caring.
"I've taught with the most amazing teacher for the last 12 years," said junior high teacher Sharris Hayes. "She has taught, inspired, made a difference in our youth for 38 years."
Hayes quoted many of Hoover's nomination letters, one of which read, "she is a caring teacher who is genuinely concerned for her students."
While a student nomination letter stated, "her class is enjoyable, even in the early mornings."
Finally, Aldrich, a social studies teacher and A+ Coordinator at the Neosho High School, was given a heartfelt introduction by her husband, agriculture teacher Mike Aldrich.
He read from a letter written by a 1990 NHS graduate.
"Have you ever been asked to name two or three teachers that's had the biggest impact on you?" he read. "This teacher would be in my top three. This teacher renewed my interest in learning and being a better student."
Page 2 of 2 - "I would now like to introduce to you, in my opinion, the best teacher in the whole wide world, and my very best friend," Mike Aldrich said.
"It's been an honor to teach in this district my entire career and this is 29 years," Cindy Aldrich said.
According to the Chamber, each award winner received nomination letters from colleagues, parents and students.
"As far as the Chamber goes, we're very much involved in and concerned about business and the growth of business and the growth of our city and you can't do that without good schools, that's just a known fact," said Chamber board president Jason Stipp. "On behalf of the chamber, I just want to say thank you to all the teachers and everybody associated with the school, we thank you for what you do because we can't be a great community without your help."
The district also took a moment to recognize superintendent Alma Stipp, who is retiring at the end of June.
Stipp, who has worked in the district for 28 years, has served as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and for the last year, as the district's leader.
After announcing her retirement last year, Stipp was asked to take over the superintendent position for a one-year term, to allow the Neosho R-5 Board of Education adequate time to find a replacement for Richard Page, who left last summer for another position.
The district has since hired Dan Decker, current superintendent of the Aurora R-8 school district, and he will begin his duties July 1.
"We can't leave without giving her all our dues, all our gratification," Condict said in recognizing Stipp.
"Her passion has always been education," said her son, Jason Stipp. "I think it's been one of her God-given gifts and I think Neosho schools will miss her."