retirees 2011.jpgOn May 17th the Board of Directors recognized three classified employees and eight teachers on their retirement from the Stanwood-Camano School District.  (Pictured from left:  Eloise Zelk, Vicki Rensink, Jon Evavold, Jackie Ford, Penny Buse, Kim Hayes, Joanne Stone, and Gale Forrest.  Unable to attend was Jacque Burkhalter, Margaret Hoiby and Bert Carlson.)

Dr. Linda Littlefield, Executive Director of Human Resources, honored the retirees with heartfelt tributes recognizing their combined total of 289 years of service.  Please read further for the condensed version of Dr. Littlefield’s tributes.


Jackie Ford, para educator, has contributed eight years of service and four years of substituting to the district working with special needs students.  She supported students in the ASSIST program at Utsalady Elementary as well as in the resource classroom at Stanwood Middle School.  She is an unending advocate for students.

Bert Carlson, bus driver, has safely transported students to school and home and to various school-sponsored activities for 15 years.  His caring and supportive attitude greets the students in the morning, setting the tone for the day to come.  A musician at heart, Bert has traveled and played music throughout the country.

Margaret Hoiby, bus driver, has also safely transported students for 17 years.  She is well-known for supporting the high school sports programs by providing wonderful meals and goodies for the team and was frequently the driver of the team bus.  She also loved to dress-up and be involved in special events for our students.  Margaret is compassionate with a friendly nature who tries to help whenever she can.

Joanne Stone has been an educator for 21 years.  Throughout her career, her endorsements in early childhood, special education, 4-12 English, and physical education, led to a variety of teaching positions including a highly capable program. Since 2002, when she came to our district, she taught in the resource room, grades 3 and 5, and is teaching physical education this year.  She is also a world traveler who brings a wealth of personal experiences that add richness to her classrooms.

Kim Hayes is retiring after 26 years in our primary classrooms.  As a kindergarten teacher her patience and ability to understand the mind of a young child are instrumental in their success.  She continues to focus on the well-being of each student with her enthusiastic, caring and dependable manner.

Jacque Burkhalter
has 28 years of service in education.   For 12 years she has been the librarian at Twin City Elementary.  She has provided a comfortable welcoming space inviting children to use the library to enhance their own learning and to enjoy having a book in their hands.  She has contributed a great deal to her students, her school, and our district.

Eloise Zelk has spent 28 years teaching, 16 of those years in Stanwood.  A reflective educator, she thinks about her work and tries new things to support the growth of children in her classroom.  An elementary teacher, through and through, Eloise brings a positive attitude to the work place and a spirit to teaching her students.

Vicki Rensink has been a member of our staff for 33 years.  She has been the librarian at Cedarhome Elementary since it opened and has engaged students in the love of learning and reading.  She has tirelessly made the library the type of place people want to come.  Vicki is known as a consummate professional who is always supportive and willing to do more than her share.

Margaret (Penny) Buse has been an educator for 36 years, reaching out to students in her own unique way as a secondary teacher.  She has touched the lives of so many students with her energy, enthusiasm and passion for learning.  She is caring, creative, and determined to help students succeed in the challenges they face.   She never gives up finding ways to inspire and support her students to believe they can succeed.

Gale Caruso-Forrest
has been an educator for 38 years.  She has worked tirelessly in programs for students with special needs for 13 years before moving into administration positions.  She has served as the Special Programs Director for our District for 14 years building comprehensive and progressive programs for our special education students.  Gale is a staunch advocate for each child bringing understanding, insight and experience.  Her calm demeanor, bright smile, and sense of humor has brought pleasure to all who know her.

Jon Evavold
has been an educator for 39 years and for the past 9 years he has been the principal at Elger Bay Elementary after retiring from administrative duties in Mukilteo.  He is a leader who teaches others how to lead, building a strong instructional team at Elger Bay.  He is kind, courteous and often the administrator colleagues turn to when someone needs support.  He has enriched the lives of his students, staff and peers, through his strong leadership qualities.