Nine Paramount employees head into retirement

June 22, 2007

Sue Gordon, a longtime educator in Washington County and principal at Paramount Elementary School, has decided to retire.

What's unusual is that eight others at the school also decided to call it a career. Near the end of the school year, Gordon asked each of those staffers to write something about themselves.

After 287 combined years of service to the children of Washington County, the following individuals will retire this year. They include Gordon, William Burgan, Pat Cero, Joyce Mock, Nancy Newkirk, Elaine Palmer, Marge Rohrer, Jodi (Ommert) Spickler and Judy Stoner.

Here's what they said:

· William Burgan

"I started out as a substitute custodian at Maugansville, and transferred to Paramount in March 1973. I enjoyed my work. I closed up the old Paramount building and moved to Eastern to open the new Paramount school. One memorable moment was when I saved a student from choking."


· Pat Cero

"I will miss the students, who explained 'the latest,' who make me laugh and who make me believe in the future. I taught at Fountaindale, fifth grade at Northern Middle and fifth grade at Paramount Elementary School. Former students send me their best news. I hope they see the world through geography eyes. I want them to search for visions on wonderment."

· Joyce Mock

"I started my teaching career in 1970 at Broadway Early Childhood Center as a kindergarten teacher. From there, I continued teaching kindergarten at Woodland Way Elementary School. In 1983, I was given the opportunity to go to Paramount Elementary and teach first grade. I conclude my teaching career as a first-grade teacher at Paramount after 37 years with WCPS.

"No matter how prepared I was for the day, I considered every day a new adventure. I loved those unpredictable reactions, comments and questions you get from the young student. That I will truly miss."

· Nancy Newkirk

"I cannot believe that I have taught for 34 years. It has been such a memorable career, and I have had the privilege of knowing hundreds of wonderful people through the years. I will always think of all my students as 'my children.' I will always love all of them.

"I began my career as a sixth-grade teacher at Conococheague Elementary School. I then spent a year at Surrey Elementary School, and two years at Eastern Elementary School while they rebuilt Paramount. Thirty years of my career were spent at the 'old' and 'new" Paramount Elementary School.

"The highlight of my teaching career was being able to touch the life of a child and make him/her a better person."

· Elaine Palmer

"I have spent 33 years, more than half my life, in the best profession a woman can have. The first 10 years were at Funkstown, the next eight at Winter Street (Western Heights) and the last at wonderful Paramount.

"I loved the challenge of making the students want to learn and begin each day as if it's the first.

"Now begins a new first day, but with the best memories as a foundation."

· Marge Rohrer

"I have truly enjoyed teaching first- and second-graders during my 31 years in Washington County.

"I came to this county in 1969 after graduating from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. I taught at Broadway Elementary in 1969, and then taught at Funkstown Elementary from 1970 to 1980. I have been teaching at Paramount Elementary for the past 19 years."

· Jodi (Ommert) Spickler

"I have enjoyed teaching students of Washington County for 30 years. I student-taught and began my teaching career at Fountaindale Elementary School. Next, I took a maternity leave to have my two children. I returned to the classroom at Sharpsburg Elementary, then moved to be with my children at Lincolnshire for three years.

"Among the highlights of my career were the eight years I was a resource teacher for the gifted and talented program. In 1996, I chose to return to the classroom at Paramount, grade 3.

"My final two years were spent as a fifth-grade teacher. I will miss the children who love to learn."

· Judy Stoner

Judy Stoner has said "Have a great summer!" to the last of her third-graders at Paramount Elementary. The veteran teacher retires after 32 years with Washington County Public Schools.

Stoner has worn many hats during her tenure with the county, spending her early years at the old North Street School and Marshall Street School, working with special-needs children. From there, she moved to Western Heights, again working with special-needs children.

After starting her own family, Stoner began working with third-graders at Fountaindale Elementary. After several years, she had the opportunity to move to Boonsboro Elementary as their gifted and talented enrichment teacher, a position she really enjoyed.

Another move brought her to Paramount Elementary, where she spent the next 10 years teaching fourth grade. Then, she was asked to don the hat of a third-grade teacher again. She wore that hat happily, but will soon trade it for a gardening hat.

· Sue Gordon

Sue Gordon has been an administrator in Washington County Public Schools for the past 18 years. She served as principal at Funkstown, Fountaindale, and Conococheague elementary schools, and concluded her career at Paramount Elementary. She was the assistant principal at both Fountaindale and Boonsboro Elementary.

Prior to her years in administration, she was a Title I specialist, working with children from Lincolnshire and Clear Spring elementary schools. She also taught first, second, third and fourth grades at Pleasant Valley Elementary and Fountaindale.

She ends her career in education after 30 years that have been filled with many happy memories of all of the children that she has had the pleasure of working with throughout Washington County.

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