Retiring school officials reflect on careers
County school districts are in store for leadership shakeups, with three prominent figures move on or retire from their respective schools.
Combined, Hillsboro, Centre, and Peabody-Burns will say goodbye to two superintendents and a longtime secretary.
Ron Traxson came to Peabody-Burns with 30 years of experience as an educator and building administrator. It has been nine years since then, and Traxson says he still enjoys fostering students’ development.
“It’s the same at whatever level, whether you’re a teacher, administrator, or even superintendent of a district,” he said. “There are a lot of things with the job that are challenges, but the one thing you can take away and keeps you going is that you get to watch kids grow.”
Traxson plans to retire at the end of the school year.
Centre superintendent Susan Beeson also plans to move on from her position when the school year ends.
She has spent six years at Centre but is eager to seek a position in southeastern Kansas to be closer to family.
The school’s family atmosphere helped Beeson learn to love her job as district superintendent.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. “It’s been an opportunity for me to become acquainted with the wonderful community of students, staff, and community members. It’s also allowed me the opportunity to continue to grow as a professional.”
Beeson was administrator at Chetopa-St. Paul school district in southeastern Kansas before coming to Centre. To get from one Chetopa-St. Paul school campus to another requires a drive through three other districts, so moving to Centre was a major change for her.
“To come to Centre where the pre-K through 12 programs was contained in one building was quite an experience for me,” she said. “I think that’s lent to my sense of family and the recognition of close-knit relationships that are built in this district.”
Pam Bartel retired this week after 28 years as secretary at Hillsboro Elementary School. Her long tenure in the district surprises even her.
“It just kind of led into that,” she said. “It was a job I enjoyed, and I enjoyed the people I was working with.”
Bartel has seen students grow up and now watches their children tackle elementary school.
Traxson, who has seen his share of children move on in his career, realized a few years into the superintendent job that he wanted Peabody-Burns to be the final stop.
“It was a new adventure, kind of like retiring,” he said. “I didn’t know that for sure, but it’s home now.”
He came to Peabody-Burns after 24 years as a building administrator around Kansas districts, but Peabody-Burns was Traxson’s first time serving as superintendent.
Traxson found himself spending less time in the community in recent years. That, and a desire to spend more time with his grandchildren, showed him it might be time to retire.
“If you’re going to be a district leader, you need to spend your time with the community,” he said. “I do as it is, but at the same time, I found myself spending more time away. If that’s the case then, hey it’s time to change focuses.”
Beeson said her time at Centre demonstrated how differences in resources and focuses between district changed their needs.
One of the biggest factors for Bartel was choosing the right time to retire. Doing so in the winter rather than the fall will help make the transition easier for her replacement because it is less busy.
Similar to Beeson and Traxson, Bartel is anticipating having more time to visit family. She also wants to stay involved with Hillsboro as a volunteer.
“That makes it easier to say ‘so long, I’ll see you later,’ instead of goodbye,” she said. “I think I might not see some of these people anymore if our paths don’t cross downtown. That’s hard for me to think about.”