KETCHIKAN (KDN) — For a handful of Ketchikan School District teachers, June was both the end of the 2019-20 school year and a close to long and varied careers with education in Ketchikan.

The Daily News interviewed eight teachers who entered retirement at the end of this school year.

Some educators sent an email statement to the Daily News, while others participated in brief phone interviews throughout this week.

During the interviews, the teachers shared information about the positions they held within the school district, reflected on their favorite moments from their career and explained what they are looking forward to in their retirement.

Those retiring educators include James Connelly, Judy Christensen, Gary Boatwright, Marian Gonzales, Katy Hook, Lane Johnson, Laurie Northrup and Ole Sullivan.


Dr. Marian Gonzales

Marian Gonzales recently announced her retirement from a long career with the Ketchikan School District.

Gonzales' career in education spanned 25 years. She began as a classroom teacher at Valley Park Elementary School, before working as a reading specialist and teacher at Point Higgins Elementary School. For the last nine years, she has been in the position of Tongass School of Arts and Sciences principal.

What is your fondest memory of working in the Ketchikan School District?

"The teachers and children. I've enjoyed education — the whole process of working with kids and teaching reading and writing and math — and I just have enjoyed working with the teachers and learning along with them, and teaching the kids and helping them to develop and grow."

What will you do in your retirement?

"I'm going to return to work. I'll return to work, but I'm going to live closer to some of my husband's family. ... We're going to live closer to family now that we're both retired."

Laurie Northrup

Laurie Northrup has been an administrative assistant in the Ketchikan School District since 1990, and this year, she decided to retire.

Northrup began working as an administrative assistant at the district office in 1990, after accepting a job that was only supposed to last for three months. She decided to transfer to White Cliff Elementary School in June of that same year. Northrup worked at White Cliff until 1997, when she moved to a role as attendance secretary at Ketchikan High School. In 2005, she made her final transfer to Point Higgins Elementary School.

What is your fondest memory of your career with the district?

"The best part about my job is that no day is every the exact same; you are always learning something new, especially with technology. Also, you get to see about 300 smiling faces and their families every day, meet new people, and work with the most fabulous principals and coworkers. Point Higgins staff is like family and I feel so luck to have spent the last 15 years here."

How do you plan to spend your retirement?

"Retiring was a hard decision because I do love my job, and love coming to work every day, but 30 years seems like a great number to retire at. Now I can travel in the fall and winter to visit family, and go places I've never been."

John Ole Sullivan

Ole Sullivan's retirement at the end of this school year brings to a close his 25-year career as a math teacher in Ketchikan.

Sullivan spent two years as a Ketchikan High School math teacher, and spent the remaining 23 years of his career teaching math and other assorted subjects at Schoenbar Middle School.

What is your fondest memory of working in the Ketchikan School District?

"It's got to be the students; just all sorts of really special students that I'll remember for a long, long time."

What will you do in your retirement?

"Work on my house. Probably travel a little bit more. I thought about joining the PeaceCorps again, if not, (I) may just go to see the places I'd always like to see, like Mauchu Picchu and the Great Wall of China. Maybe travel across Russia and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Little things like that."

Katy Hook

Katy Hook recently retired from a 35-year-long career in the Ketchikan School District.

Hook's career saw her working as a Title I paraprofessional — an educator who tutors students in reading and math — at Houghtaling Elementary School for 34 years. She spent one year employed at Valley Park Elementary School.

What is your fondest memory of your career with the district?

"By far the kids. They just make the job. And it's been so sad to have to leave this way, because I didn't get to say goodbye."

Hook also said, "I've also been lucky enough to work with some really incredible people. ... I've been so impressed with how they've stepped up and done such a wonderful job. I always knew were great, but this has really proved it."

How do you plan to spend your retirement?

"We're (Hook and her husband) hoping to do a lot of traveling. ... Hopefully we'll get there."

Judy Christensen

Judy Christensen retired this year after a career in the Ketchikan School District that spanned across 17 years at two schools.

Christiansen initially taught social studies and English at Revilla Junior Senior High School, and most recently, at Ketchikan High School. Christiansen also coached cheerleading at Kayhi.

What is your fondest memory of your career with the district?

"At Revilla, it was definitely my favorite part was one-on-one, and I did the yearbook, and that was really fun because I got to take pictures of all the students and kind of catch them being good and being their best. At the high school, I loved traveling with students when I was first there as a coach and then later as just a chaperone for various activities."

How do you plan to spend your retirement?

"Well, I am going to quilt and read and scrapbook and hike. ... And spend more time with my family that's farther away, and spend more time with friends. Family and friends."

Christiansen said that retirement will be hard because, "I guess if you love something you're not going to be ready to let it go."

Lane Johnson

After just over 17 years, Lane Johnson has retired from working as a counselor in the Ketchikan School District.

At the beginning of his career, Johnson taught fifth and sixth grade at Valley Park Elementary School. After a leave of absence, he returned to the district to fill the role of counselor at Tongass School of Arts and Sciences for the remainder of his career. He also taught health and physical education at TSAS.

What is your fondest memory of working with the Ketchikan School District?

"It's got to be the people. You get to work with kids and families. And then I'm so impressed with my co-workers, (a) very dedicated bunch of teacher and administrators who really want to help kids learn, but also care for them as people."

How will you spend your retirement?

"I don't know. ... Spend time with my grandkids and my wife, get out on my boat and travel."

James Connelly

James Connelly, whose career with the Ketchikan School District spanned 29 years, retired at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

Connelly taught fifth grade at Point Higgins Elementary School for 15 years before taking his most recent position as an English teacher at Revilla Junior Senior High School, a job he held for 14 years.

What is your fondest memory of working with the district?

"I believe just working with the students, you know, that's where the joy comes from. Designing classes, designing the interesting activities, I think that's really important, and just connecting with them. ... I think it's just being with the kids, and working with the kids and providing for the students."

Connelly added that he enjoyed being able to teach all subjects to his Pt. Higgins students, and also enjoyed the one-on-one experience that Revilla provided.

 What will you do in your retirement?

 "I have a nice home on the beach and I got an acre of land, and it just needs a lot of work and a lot of upkeep, and for the time being I'm going to just focus on being outside and working as much as possible. I row a lot in the summer with a rowboat, and I've also done a lot of writing in the past and that kind of got put on hold after I went to Revilla. ... I'd like to get back to doing that."

Gary Boatwright

After 22 years teaching math at schools throughout the Ketchikan School District, Gerald Boatwright retired at the close of the 2019-20 school year.

Boatwright taught at Ketchikan High School for nine years, at Schoenbar Middle School for five years and at Revilla Junior Senior High School for eight years. He also taught summer school for a decade.

What is your fondest memory of working in the Ketchikan School District?

"I think the breakfast program at Revilla. Every Friday several staff members and a few students would go in at 7 a.m. and cook up pancakes, waffles, French toast, breakfast burritos or some other hot breakfast for the entire school. It was served with juice, sausage or bacon on occasion, and other goodies. We would play old time rock and roll and visit with the students as they came through the serving line and ate. It was fun to cook for the students and staff."

What will you do in your retirement?

 "My wife Nancy (also a retired math teacher who taught at Revilla) and I plan on staying in Ketchikan."

Boatwright noted he had many young grandchildren, both in Ketchikan and other states, and looks forward to spending more time with them in his retirement.