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UPK Teacher Jeanne DeWilde to retire after 29 years with Lyons Elementary

Jeanne DeWilde and class

JUNE 10, 2022 — For Jeanne DeWilde, the choice to retire after 29 years with Lyons Central School District was a quick one to make — her two adult daughters had both announced that they had babies on the way, and Mrs. DeWilde always knew she wanted to be able to care for her grandchildren whenever they were born. 

But while the decision was easy, the emotions leading up to her last day in the classroom have been much more difficult to process. 

“This is the only place I know where I can get hugs, smiles and happy faces all day long,” Mrs. DeWilde said. “I really wasn’t ready. I probably would not be retiring if I didn’t have two grandbabies coming.”

Mrs. DeWilde has spent the last seven years teaching UPK at Lyons Elementary School, and prior to that she taught multi-age K-1. She also taught at Border City School, a district in the Geneva-Waterloo area that no longer exists, for several years prior to coming to Lyons. 

Teaching Lyons’ littlest learners has been one of the greatest joys of her life, she said. 

“It’s always been all about the kids for me — they’ve always been what’s brought me here,” Mrs. DeWilde said. “I really do love them.”

Over the last three decades, Mrs. DeWilde said kindergarten education has drastically evolved. And through the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s seen even more changes in how and where students do their best learning. 

But one thing she’s always loved was the consistent — and persistent — happy attitudes that her students brought to school with them every day. 

“It’s a hoot in here most of the time,” Mrs. DeWilde said. “The smiles I get every day are everything. They’re happy to see me, happy to be here. I love that they soak all of that up.”

As a teacher with nearly 30 years in the district, Mrs. DeWilde has been in the school long enough to have the pleasure of teaching some of her students’ children. Some now-adult students even lamented to her when they learned she was retiring, asking if she could stay “just one more year” to teach their little ones who hadn’t yet reached kindergarten age. 

One small consolation is knowing she’ll still see past students and their families out and about in the community, Mrs. DeWilde said. 

“There’s nothing like going somewhere and seeing a former student,” she said. “I may not always remember the name, but when I see their eyes, generally I can tell whether they were one of mine.”

Though her nearing retirement has brought on many tears, Mrs. DeWilde is at peace with her decision. Retiring when she still feels happy about coming to work every day was important to her, she said. 

“I didn’t want to wait until I didn’t like it. It wouldn’t be fair to the kids,” Mrs. DeWilde said. “The 29 years I’ve been here has been a wonderful experience. I’ve truly enjoyed this job, and I will miss it so much.”