Denair Retirees Honored for Combined 128 years of Service

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

An account technician, the longtime director of technology, two popular maintenance workers and a special education assistant and have announced their retirements from the Denair Unified School District at the end of this school year. Combined, they have 128 years of service in schools.

Those retiring are:

  • Ana Rush, Account Technician
  • Mark Ranes, Director of Technology
  • Maria Gomes, Custodian
  • Genaro “Willie” Lugo, Utility Worker
  • Sue Patterson, Special Education Paraeducator

The five retirees were honored with gifts and testimonials May 10 at an emotional Board of Trustees meeting. There were smiles, hugs and more than a few tears – of gratitude and happy memories, and from close friends who won’t be seen quite as frequently.

Also acknowledged and congratulated on a job well done was Superintendent Aaron Rosander, who is leaving after 4½ years and moving to the Bay Area to be closer to his elderly parents.

Ana Rush, 38 years in the district: Rush and her husband, Randy, are 1976 graduates of Denair High. So are both their children, something not at all uncommon in the close-knit community. She describes having four Coyote alumnus in the same family as being “very special.”

Rush said it “has been a pleasure working” in the business office for more than three decades, but that she’s excited about the chance to spend more time with her family.

“My plans are to do what I want when I want, to help with my six grandchildren when I’m needed and to wait for my husband to retire so we can travel throughout the United States,” she said.

Among her favorite memories are the morning pots of coffee brewed by Ranes in the district office. “He used to make the best coffee,” Rush recalled.

“The other wonderful experience was meeting and becoming friends for life with other parents by being involved with Sports Boosters and Sober Grad,” she said.

Mark Ranes, 34 years in the district: Ranes spent the first 13 years of his Denair career teaching science to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Denair Middle School. But in the mid-1990s – when school districts could barely imagine the impact computers someday would have on education – he left the classroom to become the district’s first and only technology director.

“The biggest accomplishment early on in the technology area was being the first district in Stanislaus County that had a networked computer in every classroom. In 1996-97, that was unheard of,” Ranes said. “But overall, I think the biggest accomplishment of all is maintaining 20+ years of technology use in DUSD, where we stayed focused on the people using the technology, not the technology itself.

“Education is a people business. Empowering creative teachers with the ability to use technology as a tool, to open the minds of students, is what we do in the tech department.”

His responsibilities brought Ranes in contact with every district department, so it’s no surprise when he admits that his biggest adjustment will be making up for that daily interaction.

“Denair is my family,” he said. “Even when I’m not at work, I’m around people I’ve met through my career in Denair. This district is blessed to have some of the kindest, hard-working people I’ve ever met. They know their mission and want to provide the best education possible for Denair’s students. I will miss seeing these folks on a daily basis.”

Until his wife, Brenda – a teacher at Denair Elementary Charter Academy– retires and they can do more traveling, Ranes expects to spend much time on his twin passions – home brewing and baking.

“I’ll be able to brew on weekdays now!” he said with a smile. “I also want to master a couple areas in baking – sourdough bread and pies. Finally, I look forward to spending more time with our two Boston terriers. They can take me on walks.” Continue reading “Denair Retirees Honored for Combined 128 years of Service” »

Denair Retirees Honored for Combined 171 Years of Service

Denair retirees May 2017

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Five accomplished and influential teachers and a popular maintenance man have announced their retirements from the Denair Unified School District at the end of this month. Combined, they have 171 years of service in schools.

Those retiring are:

  • Patti Greer, second grade teacher, Denair Elementary Charter Academy
  • Carol Hammond, reading intervention specialist, Denair Elementary Charter Academy
  • Mary Worman, preschool teacher, Denair Elementary Charter Academy
  • Colleen Vickery, eighth grade language arts teacher, Denair Middle School
  • Johanna Hoyt, seventh grade language arts, Denair Middle School
  • Charlie Asbill, maintenance man, Denair Middle School and Denair High School

All were honored and presented with inscribed clocks Thursday night at an emotional Board of Trustees meeting. There were smiles, hugs and more than a few tears – of gratitude and happy memories, and from close friends who won’t be seen quite as frequently.

Superintendent Aaron Rosander referred to teaching as “a lifelong calling” as part of his tribute to the retirees. “I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with you. Thank you for all that you’ve done.”

The Pulse reached out to all six employees; four of them responded.

Patti Greer, 29½ years in the district (40 overall): Greer expects that she will miss her colleagues as well as the eager faces of her students.

“When you teach in a district as long as I have, you develop friendships that last a lifetime,” she said. “I might have a visit once in a while to get a kid fix.” Continue reading “Denair Retirees Honored for Combined 171 Years of Service” »

Dennis Loftin, DUSD Facilities Director, to Retire

Dennis Loftin

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Like many families in Denair, the Loftins have deep roots in the community. Dennis Loftin – the facilities and maintenance director for the Denair Unified School District – graduated from the high school. So did his father, Glenn, who later became a teacher there, coached basketball and served as athletic director. So did Glenn Loftin’s mother.

Though there have been a few small gaps, it seems there has been a Loftin associated with the school for nearly 70 years, ever since both sides of Glenn Loftin’s family migrated to California from Kansas during the Dust Bowl.

That will end next week, when Dennis Loftin retires after 15 years.

“It’s time,” said Loftin, 56, who was an electrician by training before back and knee ailments inspired a move into school district facilities supervision, first in Riverbank and then at his hometown campuses.

The soft-spoken Loftin is a quickly recognized face all around the district, not only for his bushy gray mustache and beard but because he literally knows the story behind every building, classroom, piece of equipment or stretch of sidewalk.

As an All-American athlete in high school, he remembers when all the boys and girls – high school, middle school and elementary – shared the single gymnasium on the elementary campus. Same with the cafeteria.

“We used to have to walk across Lester Road from the high school to use the cafeteria or go to practice,” he said. “I graduated in 1977 and I got married in 1979. All I ever heard was, ‘We’re getting a new gym. We’re getting a new gym.’ It was a dream of my dad’s and anyone who went to school here.”

It took more than 20 years for that dream to be realized. Loftin said he is proud to have worked with many other community members to help pass the school bond that provided the money to build a new high school gym. A few years later, residents voted in favor of a second school bond to construct a new middle school. Continue reading “Dennis Loftin, DUSD Facilities Director, to Retire” »

Carolyn Brown Retires from DUSD Board After 28 Years of Service

Carolyn Brown

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

There isn’t much that Carolyn Brown hasn’t experienced in 28 years on the Denair Unified School District school board.

Academic achievement, the passage of two bonds to build beautiful new facilities and the restoration of community pride. Controversies over the American flag, near bankruptcy and two attempts to redraw the district’s boundaries. Six superintendents, two interim superintendents and at least 22 other board members.

Through it all, the one constant has been Brown, who began her tenure on Denair board as the mother of two elementary-age daughters in 1987 and leaves as the grandmother of five. Thursday night was her final meeting after deciding not to seek an eighth four-year term.

Her colleagues presented her with a clock, marveled at her institutional memory and praised her as a calming voice of reason even during the most turbulent times.

“It’s your caring, first of all,” said Superintendent Aaron Rosander, addressing Brown. “You truly care. You’re poised, even under intense conditions. You are a very sensible person and weigh things out. I really admire that. … Thanks for putting an indelible mark on many, many kids through the years.”

Trustee Robert Hodges – who is 29 years old – joked that Brown, 69, has served nearly as long as he’s been alive. He also appreciated her quiet wisdom.

“It’s been great for me, as the youngest board member, to always have a shoulder to lean on. ‘How does this work? What happened in the past?’” said Hodges. “I can’t count how many times she’s tried to tell me something and I didn’t agree. Two days later, I’d have to text her and say, ‘You were right.’ ” Continue reading “Carolyn Brown Retires from DUSD Board After 28 Years of Service” »