Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

June 7, 2013

Pleasantville Schools losing decades of experience


The Journal Express

---- — Five Pleasantville educators retired at the end of this school year, each with many years of experience. The school district shared these stories of each of this year’s retirees.

DENNIS OLIVER

“I graduated from Chariton High School and I did my undergraduate work at Central College in Pella (B.A.) I earned my Masters of Arts/Educational Psychology at the University of Northern Iowa.

My first teaching job was at Grinnell High School in Grinnell, followed by one year at Montezuma High School. I began my career at Pleasantville in the fall of 1975 and then spent two years teaching at the University of Northern Iowa from 1986-1988. I returned to Pleasantville in the fall of 1988 and have remained here to the present.

I have taught the following classes at Pleasantville: Government, Economics, U.S. History, Global Affairs, Sociology, Psychology, Peer Helpers, World Geography, and all Social Studies in grades 7-8. I’m currently the Student At-Risk Coordinator for the district and the Guided Studies Director.

My extra-curricular assignments have been as follows: Junior High Girls Basketball Coach (6 on 6 and 5 on 5), Varsity Girls Track Coach, Co-Musical Director, Head Play Director and sponsor of the Student Model Legislature.

I plan to explore other professional opportunities in the field of education on the secondary or collegiate level during my retirement.”

SHARON THILL

“I graduated from Charter Oak-Ute High School in 1974. I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Business Education from Wayne State College, Wayne, Neb., in 1978.

I started teaching Business Education at Pleasantville August of 1978. My first seven years included teaching Accounting, Consumer Economics, Business Law, typing (on manual typewriters), and eighth grade typing. When my teaching partner, Connie Dawson, moved on to teach at Southeast Polk during my eighth year I switched to teaching Office Procedures, Shorthand, Advanced Typing, and continued with the eighth grade and ninth grade typing. In addition, I taught Publications and continued for 24 years producing school yearbooks and school newspapers. I also have taught fifth grade computers, and for the past several years have taught sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Technology. These last two years I have also had the pleasure of teaching seniors in Consumer Education, and this last year upperclassmen in Accounting. It has been a great experience and very rewarding to teach seniors once again.

For 35 years I have been the Business Club Advisor. Throughout the years we have had many different projects, with the first being creating the “Athletic Booklet” that was used as “programs” during athletic events. The Business Club has owned and operated the Tack Shack for many years, and I was instrumental in starting it back in the 90s when it was a project of the Booster Club. In 1996 another teacher and I started the Junior High Student Council and in 1997 assumed the adviser role for the High School Student Council, continuing for eight years. My involvement in the Student Council activities were the basis for many treasured memories.

These past two years have been very rewarding as I have been the coordinator for the school’s participation in the Meals on Wheels program through our local Senior Center. It has been great working with our senior citizens and students, delivering meals to Pleasantville’s shut-ins.

Moving from Western Iowa to Pleasantville 35 years ago to begin a career in education was indeed an opportunity of a lifetime. Pleasantville is where I met my husband, where we raised our family, and where I plan to retire. Randy and I have two sons, Thomas and John, one daughter-in-law Whitney, and two grandsons Braxton and Tatum. With Randy having been retired for the past year and a half, I’m looking forward to joining him fulltime in our many projects and ventures. We have been vegetable gardening for several years and have greatly increased the amount and size of our garden. We enjoy participating in Farmers’ Markets throughout the summer and fall, including the Pleasantville Farmers’ Market. In retirement I’m looking forward to having the time to work on our acreage growing and selling vegetables, working with our sheep, and crafting. I’m planning to continue volunteering at the Senior Center for the Meals on Wheels program, and also hope to substitute teach when needed.

Pleasantville has been a wonderful place to live and raise a family. I would like to thank the Pleasantville Community School District and Superintendent Harold Isley who 35 years ago offered me my first teaching contract. It has been a wonderful experience and a very rewarding career. I would also like to thank the many teachers, staff, students, and community members throughout the years that I have had the opportunity to meet and work with.

LOIS TURNAGE

“I grew up in Michigan, graduating from Galesburg-Augusta High School in 1973, and then went to Michigan State University (Go Spartans!), where I majored in Music Education and was in the Spartan Marching Band for four years. I graduated from Michigan State in 1977 and took a graduate assistantship in the Music Department at Central Missouri State University (now called the University of Central Missouri) in Warrensburg. While there I also taught in the Blue Springs School District, where I conducted the orchestra and taught beginning strings. I also met my husband John at CMSU, and in 1979 I graduated with my Masters Degree in Music…and also got married!

I began teaching in Iowa with the Norwalk School District in the fall of 1979, where I taught Sixth Grade Band, assisted with High School Band, and started the Norwalk Dance Team. I was at Norwalk from 1979-1982, and then took the position of Elementary Music 2-5 and Elementary Band 5-6 at Pleasantville, which was exciting for me because I was able to ‘team-teach’ the Band program with my husband John (35 years as Pleasantville Junior-Senior High Band teacher, retired in 2012). I started my teaching at East Elementary with the upper Elementary grades, then drove across town to North Elementary, where I pushed my electric piano on a cart from room to room because there wasn’t a Music Room. I also started the Pleasantville High School Dance Team in 1982 (although I had done some work with the PHS Dance Team before I “officially” began teaching here!) In 1993 we moved into the Elementary building we currently have, and I loved having a BIG music room with lots of space.

My teaching assignment has changed a little since 1982, and for several years I have been teaching Pre School Music, Second – Fifth Grade Music, Fifth and Sixth Grade Bands, and Special Ed Music. It has always been fun and exciting to see the growth and progress of the students from year to year, and to welcome them back to Music Class each fall…but as an older student!

We have three children (Mark-Class of 2004, Megan-Class of 2007, and Michelle-Class of 2014) and we have always lived in Pleasantville. I will continue to coach the Pleasantville Dance Team, so I will still be involved with PHS in many ways. I’m looking forward to traveling, doing more judging for dance and music competitions, doing long-distance bike rides with my sister Ann in locations around the country, reading, playing my bassoon more, going to more Chicago Cubs games, and taking on some new and exciting projects! I’m proud to have been an educator for 36 years and a Pleasantville teacher for 31 of those years, and I’d like to wish all of my teaching colleagues the very best.”

CYNDA HILSABECK

“I graduated in 1973 from SouthEast Marshall County High School (SEMCO), now called East Marshall High School in LeGrand. I attended Buena Vista College in Storm Lake and graduated in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree. I began teaching in Pleasantville that fall, and have been here for 36 years. I have taught Elementary PE, Chapter 1 Reading and Math, Sixth Grade, Fifth and Sixth Language Arts, Middle School Reading, and am currently a Fifth Grade teacher.

I have coached several sports at Pleasantville over the years, including High School Track and Cross Country; High School Girls Basketball and Softball; Junior High Girls Basketball and Softball.

In my retirement I will enjoy spending more time with my children and grandchildren; visitng my sister and her family in North Carolina; reading, exercising, and bike-riding with Cris Tillinghast (Pleasantville Third Grade Teacher that retired in 2012).”

CYNTHIA THILL

“I graduated from Norway Community Schools in Norway, Iowa. Following high school I attended Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree. My first job was in Northwest Iowa in the very small town of Royal (Clay Central Community School District) where I taught K - 12 music for one year. In the fall of 1981 I began work in the Pleasantville Community School District. While at Pleasantville for 32 years I have taught Kindergarten and First Grade General Music. I have also worked with Second Grade and most recently the Sixth Grade students in a General Music setting. I have had many wonderful Seventh and Eighth Grade Choirs and a Middle School Show Choir. At the High School level, I have had the privilege of working with many talented students in small group settings such as madrigal choir, chamber choir, and show choir. Also I have really enjoyed preparing students for State Solo & Ensemble Contest in events of mixed ensemble, male ensemble and female ensemble. A highlight of our year was to perform in Pleasantville for the Senior Citizen Luncheon, as well as in Des Moines for a Christmas performance. So many fond memories of Middle School musicals and High School State Contests. In retirement, I will be looking forward to baking, sewing and crafting much more. I will continue to be involved in my church choir, the Knoxville Community Chorus, and teaching private piano and voice lessons. I also look forward to doing more fly fishing with my husband Dan.”