Nodaway Valley Community Schools said thank you to two retirees and their entire staff for a successful school year in a program last Wednesday afternoon, May 24.
Preschool teacher Janelle Kralik and custodian Phyllis Eshelman combined for 63 years working in schools. Eshelman retired at the end of 2022, Kralik will close a chapter of 35 years in education with the end of this school year.
Numerous others were recognized for reaching various milestones in their years of service to the district.
Kralik first taught high school special education, and after her first child was born, she resigned to spend time with him. A friend of hers asked her if she’d be willing to help at a daycare center in Creston, and as they say, the rest is history.
“I went back to school to obtain my early childhood endorsement,” Kralik said. “I was the preschool teacher at I Think I Can for two years before coming to Greenfield as a teacher for a new early childhood program called Nodaway Valley Preschool. That was in 1996 and I have been there since.”
Getting to witness many firsts in a student’s life, watching their “messy and amazing” learning process unfold, seeing them smile, getting unlimited hugs, and more, are just some of the reasons Kralik has loved teaching “the littles.”
“I feel very lucky to have been able to be a part of so many kids and their families’ lives for the past 35 years,” Kralik said. “I have met so many wonderful people and have had the opportunity to watch the kids that have started in my room as shy, not sure about what is happening littles, grow to be strong, confident children who are ready to move on to begin their new adventures.”
Three of those lives have been Joceline Vry and her sisters, Jennifer and Jorja Holliday. Now, Joceline and her husband Curtis’ son, Deckline, has been in Kralik’s preschool class. Joceline was in Kralik’s first class and Deckline in her last.
“What makes Mrs. Kralik a good teacher is that she is caring, patient and kind,” Joceline said. “She would do anything for anyone.”
In retirement, Kralik is excited to go camping, travel, possibly substitute in the schools, and enjoy her first grandchild, due in November.
Advice Kralik would give to new, beginning teachers is to get to know your colleagues and to not go at it alone.
“Find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for advice. Don’t go at it alone, learn from other teachers,” Kralik said. “Be flexible enough to adapt your teaching to fit the needs of your students. I had a professor once say that if you can’t be flexible, you had better find a different career. Take time for yourself. Recharge, reboot, have fun.”
For 28 years, Eshelman was a mainstay in area school buildings, keeping them clean and in tip-top shape. She was featured in a report in January, right after she retired.
Beginning in 1994, she worked at the Fontanelle building as a Bridgewater-Fontanelle employee, working under Superintendent Fred Whipple and head custodian Ralph Gruber. She was later transferred to Bridgewater, and when Lloyd Ringer retired at the high school in Greenfield, she was moved there.
Eshelman said that in those days, custodians did everything, including the mowing, snow removal, and more. One of the many stories Eshelman shared was about the time a tornado damaged the school building in Fontanelle. As a result of that, students were moved to portable units as construction crews rebuilt the building.
Eshelman said that her time working at the high school the last several years was rewarding. Not only has she taken her task of keeping things nice and tidy seriously, she’s invested in many a student there. Eshelman even did this as an assistant coach under Darrell Burmeister in a couple of different sports through the years.
“I try to pay attention to them,” she said. “There were a lot of students who I felt close with because they always came to me if they were having a bad day, and we’d chat.”
Nodaway Valley Superintendent Paul Croghan that having successful school years upon successful school years does not happen without dedicated staff within the district.
“We want to thank our two retiring individuals for their dedication and service to the district for many years. There’s been a lot of dedication and a lot of time they’ve put in, and a lot of kids who they’ve helped give an education to,” Croghan said. “They’ll be greatly missed.”