Diana Heusel is pondering her future as children play “Red Rover” on the playground at Parkland Elementary School.
Heusel, for the past 29 years, has gotten up each morning knowing what her day held.
For the past two years, it has been making sure that her students got the right amount of exercise for the day.
And they have. The students at Parkland have walked more than 10,000 miles this year on the walking trail outside their school.
But beginning Saturday, Heusel will have to find something else to do. Her last day as a teacher in the Yukon School District was Friday.
At 51, she is a retiree.
“I am excited about the new adventure I am about to begin,” she said Wednesday, while watching her students play.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, whether it is start a new career or just taking some time off,” Heusel said.
Heusel is one of nine educators who are retiring from the district.
Heusel has been teaching for 29 years. She spent time in Moore, Earlsboro and Seminole before finding her home in Yukon.
At 22, she got her first teaching job the day before school started. She had gotten her teaching certification a few months earlier after graduating from Oklahoma State University.
“They asked me if I wanted to teach fifth-grade English, and I said ‘Yes.’ I needed a job,” Heusel said.
She said teaching is all she has ever wanted to do.
“I graduated from high school, went to college and started teaching,” she said.
After moving to the Yukon district 19 years ago, she initially taught at Independence Elementary.
When Parkland opened, she joined the staff as a third-grade teacher.
After receiving her credentials to teach physical education, she took that position about two years ago.
“I am going to miss the kids and the people I work with,” she said.
“And the equipment,” one of her students added. “She going to miss the kids and the equipment.”
Heusel said she began thinking about making a change a couple of years ago.
“The reason I got into this is the kids. I was not getting to teach as much as getting them ready for tests,” she said.
Over the years, Heusel said she has taught more children than she can count. Her smallest class was 14 students. Her largest was 29.
“My first class will soon be 40 years old,” she said.
This year’s senior class, many were her students in the fourth and fifth grades.
Heusel said she has enjoyed her career.
“I want the kids to enjoy learning to play soccer and hockey. It’s been fun. It’s a different aspect of teaching than in the classroom. They need a well-rounded education,” she said.
Her immediate plans include spending a lot more time with three children and three grandchildren.
“It probably won’t hit me until August,” she said. “August will be the tale for me.”
Yukon, this year, is losing almost 270 years of teaching experience to retirement.
Another 137 years of experience is being lost among support staff.
Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said replacing that much experience will be impossible.
“You are losing people who have dedicated their lives and have loved these kids for so many years. You lose the passion that is next to impossible to replace. What you hope for is that desire to help kids has been passed on,” he said. “You can’t replace experience.”
Nine educators are retiring this year from the Yukon School District. They are:
- Donita Brown, remedial specialist at Central Elementary — 37 years
- Diana Heusel, physical education at Parkland — 29 years
- Kimberly Lorett, third-grade teacher at Skyview Elementary — 28 years
- Shirley Thornbrue, fourth-grade teacher at Independence Elementary — 35 years
- Debbie Callison, elective career teacher at Yukon Middle School — 26 years
- Kay Casper, English teacher at Yukon Middle School — 41 years
- Nancy Osterman, family and consumer science teacher at Yukon High School — 19 years
- Dawna Schweitzer, curriculum coordinator at Yukon Schools administration — 27 years
- Lynette Thompson, executive director of student services at Yukon Schools administration — 27 years.
- Donna Richey, pre-kindergarten aide at Shedeck Elementary —24 years
- Cheryl Whittington, cook at Shedeck Elementary — 19 years
- Becky Bish and Lulu, secretary and mascot, Skyview Elementary — 10 years
- Stanley Cole, maintenance at Lakeview Elementary — 19 years
- Josephine Suffield, secretary at Yukon Middle School — 27 years
- Jacqulin Gilles, paraprofessional at Yukon High School — 23 years
- William Mowers, custodian at Administration Building — 17 years