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Retiring educators, support staff honored at BEA

By Staff | Jun 21, 2009

Retiring Blue Earth Area educators posed for a photo at their retirement party. From left are Bob Hanson, Lois Willmert and Lill Robinson.

Most people are familiar with the Academy Awards, the Emmys, Grammys and Cleo Awards, but only a small number have heard of the Eddy Awards.

According to Lill Robinson, retiring BEA middle school teacher, the Eddys were created about 15 years ago by the Blue Earth teacher’s union to recognize people who have performed a leading role in educational support.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says the local teachers really value what the support staff lends, therefore the Eddy Awards are one way they can formally recognize the achievements of these individuals.

Support staff consists of non-certified personnel including bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, para-professionals and food service employees.

Joan Rustad-Huisman was responsible this year for the nominations and balloting for the Eddy Awards. Reports Robinson, Rustad-Huisman solicited votes from the entire district. She also supplied the names of past winners, giving more support staff a chance to receive the award.

LeAnn Hendrickson

Blue Earth Area Education Association members, affiliated with the Education Minnesota union, then voted.

Receiving the Eddy Awards this year were long-time elementary custodian Warren Long and para-professional LeAnn Hendrickson.

“Warren goes the extra mile,” says Robinson. “He not only does the normal custodial work, but he delivers mail, newspapers, copy paper and book orders in addition to starting the coffee for the staff before his school day even begins.”

Hendrickson is known for her tireless work and dedication to the fifth grade elementary crossing guard program before and after school hours.

“The little extras performed by the support staff do not go unnoticed,” says the appreciative Robinson.

Warren Long

The Eddy Awards were presented at an end of the year staff program on June 8. Also recognized at this time were the ‘Teacher of the Year’ and ‘Friend of Education’ award recipients.

The honorees were presented plaques at the event. Their names will be engraved on a nameplate and added to the wall plaque located outside of the district office which lists all previous winners.

With the conclusion of the 2008-2009 academic year, retirements were also announced by long-time teachers Lill Robinson, Lois Willmert and Bob Hanson.

Lillian (Lill) Robinson, or Miz Ro. as her students have called her, began her teaching career in 1969 after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls with a degree in English education.

Prior to her 30 year teaching career in Blue Earth, she taught in Missouri Valley, Iowa, Laredo, Texas and Melbourne, Victoria Australia.

She most recently taught English 7 and was the coordinator of the District Spelling Bee, the artistic director for the BEAHS Project Trust Troupe and the stage director for the annual high school spring play.

Robert Hanson started teaching in the Delavan School District in 1975. He began as a fifth grade teacher then moved to sixth grade in 1980. In 1997, he began teaching for the Blue Earth Area School system at the Winnebago site. Hanson taught sixth grade there until 2006 then transferred to the Blue Earth Area Middle School where he taught sixth grade reading. He has been the head girls softball coach and seventh grade boys basketball coach in addition to teaching drivers education for several years.

When not involved in teaching, he has provided color commentary for KBEW during the football and basketball seasons.

Lois Willmert earned her elementary education teaching degree from Minnesota State University – Mankato. She has since added certification in Gifted and Talented.

Her first teaching assignments were as a substitute teacher in the Bricelyn and Frost elementary schools.

For the past 34 1/2 years she has taught in Winnebago, most recently as a third grade teacher. This grade level has been her favorite through the years.

Reading, community theater and traveling are among the interests she hopes to pursue.

Also retiring this year is long-time support staff employee Verla Weitzel. She has served as head cook at the high school and has worked for the school district 39 years.