NEWMAN - Two long-time Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District employees have retired.
Anne Lawrence, who with 38 years of service was the district’s longest-tenured staff member, and Karen March, who taught 35 years in the district, have each retired.
The list of retirees also includes classified employee Nanci Panelli, who worked for eight years in the Newman-Crows Landing district.
Lawrence, a 1975 Orestimba High graduate, was working as a legal secretary in Modesto when family considerations prompted her to seek employment closer to home.
She joined the school district in 1981 as a secretary at Von Renner, where she worked for 19 years before moving over to the district office as a payroll technician/benefits coordinator.
The settings were vastly different, Lawrence reflected, but she enjoyed both roles in the district.
“I enjoyed being with the kids and teachers at Von Renner. I saw more families and parents who I still see,” Lawrence reflected. “Here, it is more the business end of it. You are making sure that people are being paid correctly and that their benefits are correct.”
There were also some common threads between the two positions Lawrence has held.
At Von Renner, she was there to support students, teachers, staff and families.
At the central office, Lawrence said, employees play a supporting role for all district staff members.
And, she said, “the bottom line is that we’re all in it to educate students. We are a part of that.”
A number of students who Lawrence saw go through Von Renner are district employees today, she noted.
“That has been good to see,” she reflected. “I think that says a lot about us, and a lot about them.”
Her years with the district have been rewarding, Lawrence commented.
“I enjoyed it, or I wouldn’t have been here for 38 years,” she said. “Education is a wonderful field to be in. It was just a perfect fit for me.”
March came to Newman in 1984 as a new teacher, and spent her entire 35-year career in the district.
After teaching for a year at Orestimba, March moved over to Yolo Middle School and taught there for 34 years.
She was primarily a social studies teacher, who was known for making history come to life with activities such as re-enactments of historical moments and mock presidential elections every four years....complete with presidential debates.
“I think that history is a story well told,” March reflected. “I want students to have an appreciation of the history of our country, and a sense of patriotism and pride in our nation.”
March did not set out to be a teacher.
“I originally thought I would do something like archival work. I had done some of that in college and enjoyed it.....but the job prospects in 1984 for that type of work weren’t very good,” she explained.
But after working as a tutor, March discovered an affinity for teaching.
“I really loved it,” she recalled. “I thought that maybe I had a career in education after all.”
Through the years, March said, she endeavored to reach her students on various levels, giving them an opportunity to achieve through the learning style and interests which best suited each.
Middle school, she added, was a “perfect fit” for her.
“The kids are old enough to be capable of doing more things on their own, but they still have some of the childhood exuberance that you don’t always get in high school,” March reflected. “You never know from one day to the next if they are going to be reverting back to second grade or trying to be juniors in high school. They are trying so hard to be adults. They are trying on new shoes. Sometimes they fit and sometimes they don’t.”
Seeing students grow and take ownership of what they have learned is rewarding, she remarked.
“When you see kids take something that they have learned and make it their own, that is very meaningful to me,” March commented.
Connections forged with students are long-lasting and enriching, she added, as evidenced by the memories shared by past pupils about their experiences or activities in her classroom.
A particular point of pride, March said, is the number of her former students who are now teachers themselves in Newman-Crows Landing classrooms.
Her students have impacted her life just as she strove to enrich theirs, March reflected.
“I like the kids here,” she said, “and I have enjoyed being part of this district.”
Panelli, a classified employee with eight years of service to the district, also retired at the end of the school year.
Panelli worked in Patterson schools before coming to the Newman-Crows Landing district.
She started locally in food services, and went on to work in a before-school care program and the after-school program.
“The people were great. I just really liked everybody,” Panelli commented. “I loved the kids....I am going to miss them the most.”