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Longtime Wauneta-Palisade teachers say goodbye PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 29 May 2014 00:00

Retiring Wauneta-Palisade teachers Denise Bales, Marilyn Kunkel and Printha Fox finished their final school year last week. (DeAnn Davis | The Wauneta Breeze)


By Diane Stamm

The Wauneta Breeze


Wauneta-Palisade schools have some big shoes to fill with the retirement of three long time teachers.

Denise Bales, Marilyn Kunkel and Printha Fox finished their final school year last week. The three have a combined total of 55 years of service to the WP district. They are taking advantage of Rule of 85, which states teachers may retire early with no loss of benefits if their age plus their creditable service years equal 85.

Superintendent Randy Geier said he has appreciated working with the trio as their principal and superintendent.

“The students of Wauneta-Palisade were lucky to have these three for a combined 55 years of service,” he said. “All three teachers were true professionals at all times and will be missed.”


Printha Fox

Fox started teaching in the fall of 1990. Fox has served as the school’s 7-12 Spanish teacher, librarian and some math.

WP Superintendent Randy Geier said, “Mrs. Fox served the district for 22 years as our media specialist, she did an excellent job of teaching various levels of Spanish and she also taught some math.”

Fox said retirement has been on her mind for the last few years, but decline in her husband’s health helped her decide the time was right.

“It’s been a privilege and honor to work for such a terrific school district,” said Fox. “Of course WP’s sports have been fun to follow, but there have also been funny, kind, hard-working phenomenal students. Wonderful teachers have been my mentors and friends. School boards and administrations have been supportive.”


Marilyn Kunkel

Kunkel will be retiring after 40 years of teaching. She started at WP in the fall of 1991 as the kindergarten and Title I teacher, and helped make the change to full-day kindergarten. In 2005 she switched to sixth grade. With the move of fifth and sixth grades to the Wauneta Attendance Center, she and fellow retiree Denise Bales departmentalized to grades.

She said she made the decision to retire quickly and it will be a big adjustment after “living and breathing teaching” for 40 years.

“There have been so many favorite moments. Kindergartners are a wealth of hilarious stories. I always told my parents that they have no secrets once Show ‘n Tell starts in kindergarten. Sixth grade has been a joy to teach. The zoo trips and book club will always be favorites of mine,” Kunkel said, adding that she is now looking forward to spending time with her grandchildren and traveling with her husband.

“I would like to thank the school and communities for their unending show of support through my teaching career. Thank you to the parents for trusting your children to me. And especially thank you to all my students. You are very dear to me. It has been rewarding and memorable,” she said.


Denise Bales

Bales began teaching for the WP schools in the fall of 2001 as the fifth grade teacher. In the fall of 2004 she moved to Wauneta as the seventh and eighth grade Social Studies and English teacher, before switching back to fifth grade in 2011.

Thoughts of retirement didn’t begin until the end of April and by May 1 she had turned in her resignation.

“The students, parents, administration and school board have all been very supportive over the years. I always told my husband when I start saying ‘I’m going to work’ instead of ‘I’m going to school’ it would mean that my job was beginning to seem like work. It has never seemed like work to me,” Bales said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my years with this district. The zoo trip this past year is one of the highlights of my career with WP.”

She said she plans to spend time with her children and is looking forward to following her grandchildren’s junior high activities. She also looks forward to taking motorcycle trips with her husband.

Working side-by-side as fifth and sixth grade teachers and carpooling from McCook, Bales and Kunkel joked that, contrary to popular belief, the two will not be moving in together.

Kunkel said, “We have become very good friends over the years but neither of us is retiring because the other one is. We realize that it seems odd that we are both leaving this year but it just happened that it worked out best for both of us to retire.”

Bales added that the two have spent so much time together “we finish each others thoughts, cause a little havoc and have a lifelong friendship. Oh, and ‘What happens in the carpool, stays in the carpool!’”