Denair Unified Honors 5 Retirees For Their Many Years of Service

Three teachers, a longtime campus supervisor and an elementary school paraeducator have announced their retirements from the Denair Unified School District at the end of this school year.

Those retiring are:

  • Denair Middle School teacher Curtis Wooten
  • Denair Elementary Charter School teacher Kathy Perry
  • DMS campus supervisor Don Smith
  • Denair High School teacher Joe Esquivel
  • DECA paraeducator Laurel Dodd

The five retirees were honored May 16 for their many years of service by the district’s Board of Trustees meeting. Their principals – like the retirees, appearing remotely on videoconference because of the COVID-19 pandemic – offered testimonials about their impact on their campuses. The retirees each received an engraved clock, which was delivered to their home.

Four of the five retirees also responded to an invitation to talk about their DUSD careers.

Curtis Wooten, physical education teacher and athletic director at DMS

Years in the district: 24

Favorite memories/accomplishments: Leading the Denair High School boys basketball team to a Sac-Joaquin Section title. Becoming a physical education teacher in the Denair Unified School District.

What will you miss the most? I will miss the students of Denair!

Any special retirement plans? I plan on spending a lot of time with my two little granddaughters!!!

Kathy Perry, first-grade teacher at DECA

Years in district: 15

Favorite memories/accomplishments: I did my student teaching in Denair under the guidance of Mrs. Patti Greer. I previously worked in Turlock for nine years as an ESL paraprofessional and  one year in Manteca, teaching fifth grade. My husband’s family settled in Denair over 100 years ago. DUSD is very much like family. One of my favorite memories was when my daughter filling in as long-term sub for several first- and second-grade teachers. I loved teaching with her. Two of our four children went to Denair schools. My grandson also came to Denair for kindergarten and first grade before they moved out of state, and I loved that he was attending Denair because I knew he would be safe and loved.

What will you miss the most? The friendships I have made with staff, students and families is something I hold dear to my heart. I will miss seeing them on a regular basis. 

Any special retirement plans? My husband Rich and I are hoping to travel in our motorhome (glamping) and explore the U.S. (when traveling is allowed again). We are thinking we are going to be moving to Texas eventually (a huge change for us, as I was from Turlock and Rich from Denair). New adventures await!

Joe Esquivel, criminal Justice instructor and softball coach at DHS

Years in district: 13

Favorite Memory: Too many to mention.

What will you miss the most? I will miss the students the most. I will miss the daily interaction with them. 

Any special retirement plans? No major plans; just dealing with each day and whatever it presents. 

Laurel Dodd, paraeducator 1:1 at DECA

Years in the district: 4

Favorite memories/accomplishments: How the DECA staff all work together and are so helpful. They are awesome. Watching the students grow and seeing them reach goals they set for themselves. It felt like a second family there.

What will you miss the most? The staff and a lot of the students, for sure. We all worked together so well.

Any special retirement plans? Not really. But I hope I can go to DECA sometime to visit. Like I said, it felt like family.

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