Port Angeles schools' retirement parties begin with superintendent
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Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Port Angeles School District human resources manager Misty Dieffenbach, interim Deputy Superintendent Mary Ann Unger, Superintendent Jane Pryne and Laurie Bender, assistant principal at Port Angeles High School, from left, are among the many high-level employees at the district who will depart at the end of the month.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A reception to bid goodbye to retiring Superintendent Jane Pryne was the first of several similar parties and events that will last until school lets out.

Many key Port Angeles School District employees will depart June 30.

Pryne alternately laughed and cried as she greeted friends and colleagues at the door of the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center restaurant, exchanging hugs and memories of their years working together.

Pryne said she intends to become a “snowbird,” living and playing in Port Angeles in the summer and at the family home in Arizona in winter.

“I have to learn to play again,” she said.

Department heads

Pryne is retiring after five years as superintendent, along with interim Deputy Associate Superintendent Mary Ann Unger, who will return to retirement, and Misty Dieffenbach, director of human resources, who will depart at the end of the school year to take a position at the South Kitsap School District.

Kate Wenzl, director of special education, also will depart at the end of June.

“I'm the only [department head] in the building left standing,” said Kelly Pearson, district finance director.

Two other department heads also will remain in the district — Nolan Duce, maintenance supervisor, and Karen Ross, transportation supervisor — who run their departments from offices in other buildings.

Three school administrators will depart at the end of this month: Laurie Bender, assistant principal at Port Angeles High School; Mary Hebert, interim principal of Dry Creek Elementary; and Ron Craig, director of the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center.

Senior teachers

Many senior teachers will leave this year.

Mike Frick, a 30-year machine shop teacher and a leader of the vocational education program; Roni Prince, a 37-year Jefferson Elementary School teacher; Gloria Mandery, Hamilton Elementary reading teacher; and Maria White, special education teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School, will retire after the last bell June 14.

Jan Descala, Stevens Middle School paraeducator; Paul Knowles, Franklin Elementary School custodian; and JoAnn Lewis, Roosevelt paraeducator, also will retire from service to the district.

While much of the institutional memory of the district is retiring or departing for new positions, there are still some senior administrators remaining at the schools, Pryne said, adding that some have 15 or 20 years of experience in the district.

“I think there will be a transition period — some changes,” Pryne said.

The new superintendent, Marc Jackson, has said he intends to be at the June 26 School Board meeting, five days before he officially takes the reins of the district from Pryne.

Gerald Gabbard, who will become deputy associate superintendent July 1, has been in contact with Unger to become familiar with what is currently happening in the district and what is coming up in the near future, Pryne said.

“They will continue to talk. Mary Ann will still be around,” she said.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 03. 2014 5:19PM
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