It was standing-room-only last week when the San Ramon Valley school board hosted a ceremony to honor the district's 51 retiring employees.
Working in positions across the local education spectrum, the 2015-16 retirees combined to serve 1,074 years with the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.
"From where I stand, that is an incredibly compelling commitment," Keith Rogenski, assistant superintendent of human resources, said at the outset of the event before reading aloud each retiree's name and tenure during the school board meeting last Tuesday night in Danville.
All told, the 51 retirees represented a variety of district positions, including teacher, paraprofessional, office staff, custodian, secretary, child nutrition, special education, speech therapist and mechanic.
More than half of the retirees -- 26 -- spent two decades or more with SRVUSD, and nine retirees worked for 35 years or more with the district.
"We're very pleased that you decided to spend some or all of your career here in the district helping our students," school board president Greg Marvel said at the end of the ceremony.
"I always believe that it's the highest calling when we as adults are able to spend part of our time in giving back to the next generation and helping them with getting their lives started," Marvel added. "We appreciate everything you did and all the years you gave to the kids of this valley."
The longest-tenured retiree was Alamo Elementary School teacher Sue Benit, with 43 years of experience with the district.
Rounding out the top five (length of service) were:
- Steve Dick, school-to-career teacher, 39 years
- Julie Bitnoff, California High School teacher, 38 years
- Barbara Williams, Charlotte Wood Middle School teacher, 38 years
- Laurianne Behrens, Cal High special education paraprofessional, 37 years
- Wendy Paulson, Stone Valley Middle School teacher, 37 years
- John Riordan, delivery driver, 37 years.
The retiree with the shortest SRVUSD tenure was superintendent Mary Shelton, who spent the final four years of her 32-year education career in the San Ramon Valley.
About 20 of the retirees were on hand for the recognition reception Tuesday night at the district administrative complex in Danville. All retirees received a certificate and the district's traditional retirement gift, an engraved silver clock.
"We hope that the sight of this clock will bring you fond memories of the time you have spent with and will help you to keep track of all of the additional time that you're going to have as new retirees," Rogenski said.
"On behalf of our Board of Education, I want to thank each and every one of you for choosing to become a part of this phenomenal school district and for dedicating yourself to enriching the lives and learning experiences of our students throughout your years with us," he added, while also wishing the outgoing employees a "long, healthy and prosperous retirement."
The school board hosted two other presentations Tuesday night.
The SRVUSD Special Education Community Advisory Committee honored six recipients of its annual Bright Light Awards.
Administrator of the Year Chris George, Charlotte Wood Middle School
Paraprofessional of the Year Michelle McCarthy, Vista Grande Elementary School
Support Staff of the Year Wendy Isaacs, Cal High school psychologist
General Education Teacher of the Year Joanna Chung, Windemere Ranch Middle School
Resource Teacher of the Year Ryan Kral, Monte Vista High School
Special Day Class Teacher of the Year Jill Pasker, Los Cerros Middle School.
The board also recognized Iron Horse Middle School for winning the middle school Battle of the Books competition.