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WCPS honors school system employees for service

November 18, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Few people hold the same job for 40 years, but Rose Ulrich was honored for doing just that Wednesday during A Celebration of Service ceremony to recognize employees of Washington County Public Schools.

Ulrich and about 125 other school system employees were lauded at E. Russell Hicks Middle School in Hagerstown for reaching levels of service in five-year increments.

"It's very special," Ulrich, 61, said tearfully during an interview after receiving a pin and certificate to mark her fourth decade in the school system. "I love kids. I love science. I love teaching. That's why I keep doing it."

Ulrich said she entered Washington County Public Schools as a science teacher at E. Russell Hicks in 1969 and transferred a year later to Boonsboro High School.

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She has been there ever since, teaching biology, anatomy/physiology and earth-space science.

Ulrich said she had to get a substitute to teach an evening class for at-risk students so she could attend Wednesday's ceremony.

At-risk students are those who are more likely to drop out of school because of outside pressures, such as pregnancy or problems at home.

Washington County Board of Education President Wayne Ridenour, a former history teacher, said Ulrich helped him when he was assigned to teach two biology classes at Boonsboro High School in 1973.

"I was a lost sheep," Ridenour said after the awards ceremony, "She really helped me navigate through that. She's a great soul. She's just a wonderful person."

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan began the A Celebration of Service ceremony in 2001.

"I think recognition of service is very important," Morgan said. "It is my belief you can't have a full life without service above self."

In addition to the employees who were praised Wednesday, Morgan took a moment to recognize Niki Queen-Rhoderick, a teacher at Conococheague Elementary School who died Nov. 3 after a brief illness.

Rhoderick would have been honored for 10 years of service.

"I just wanted to acknowledge that she would have been here," Morgan said.

After the awards were presented, recipients were treated to a catered meal that included chicken and meatballs.

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