A combined 60 years of service to the Central Lyon school district was celebrated during a retirement open house Wednesday, May 3. Administrators, staff, family and friends came to honor Terry Van Berkum, Joanne Sheldon and Joella Postma.
“Each of these people has given a lot back to the students of Central Lyon,” said school board member Scott Postma in congratulating the retirees. “Each one of them has been a valuable part of the education of past and present students.”
Van Berkum is retiring after more than two decades in the district. “Terry devoted many, many hours to many different programs inside and outside the classroom,” said Postma. Van Berkum served as the district’s talented and gifted program instructor, taught world history and several exploratory classes, coached football and was the mock trial coach. “We want to thank you as you’ve helped many students realize their full potential,” said Postma.
Sheldon is retiring from her position as family and consumer sciences instructor.
“Mrs. Sheldon has dedicated her career to family and consumer science, or as I remember it, home ec is what it was called way back when I was in school,” said Postma. “Joann taught students many life skills we can all still use today.” Postma wished Sheldon good luck in the future before adding, “I’ve been told you have a bakery on the side that you’re going to be doing and I would imagine that most everybody here would agree that if you ever have any leftovers, just go ahead and bring them over here. I’m sure we’d get rid of them for you.”
Finally, Postma recognized his mother, Joella, who is retiring from her role as food service supervisor after 12 years of service to the district. “Joella came back to Central Lyon 12 years ago to a struggling lunch program and didn’t have a lot of assistance,” explained Scott.“She’s turned that program around and she’s leaving it in very good hands.” Scott said his mom tried to know all the students by name and told stories about knowing what kids did and did not like.
“On behalf of Central Lyon, the school board and me personally, I would like to wish all three of you the very best and thank you for your combined over 60 years of service,” said Scott in closing. “We appreciate all of the time and effort you put in.”
To honor Van Berkum, Toby Lorenzen and Bruce Eckenrod used props to present a list of 10 items “found in Terry’s beard” that also represented his time at Central Lyon. The list included tooth picks “leftover from the bridges he breaks”; the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” which “he always show to his seventh graders”; a whisle; a microphone; a tie-dyed shirt “leftover from the hippie unit he does”; and other items.
Eckenrod also thanked Van Berkum for the time and effort he put in at Central Lyon.
“You took the TAG program and ran with it. It seemed any time something needed done they went to you and filled in a class here or a class there,” he explained. “From singing into the speakers to whatever you’ve done here, you’ve made it a great place to work too. Thank you Terry,” said Eckenrod.
Lorenzen also highlighted the many roles Van Berkum filled at Central Lyon and emphasized all the things he did for the football coach. “He’s the ultimate company man,” said Lorenzen. “Any time someone needed something they went to Terry.” Lorenzen thanked Van Berkum and encouraged him to enjoy retirement. “I do hope you will take some time to slow down and enjoy all the years you put in at Central Lyon,” said Lorenzen. “You will be missed by everybody for a lot of reasons.”
As Van Berkum addressed the crowd, he expressed thanks to his family for supporting his career. “I’d also like to thank the administration, the school boards, the teaching and support staffs that I’ve worked with over all these years. It’s nice to know they have your back,” he said. Van Berkum recounted his memory of being hired as the talented and gifted coordinator in 1989. “The position’s come a long way since Mel (Wishman, who hired Terry in 1989) sat down with me and gave me a vision of the talented and gifted program,” he said. In fact, we had a program before the state of Iowa even had one and before there was even a talented and gifted degree.” He continued by thanking administrators, staff and support staff. “It’s been an honor to teach here and coach here.” Van Berkum closed by presenting a “token by which you can remember me by” — a video prepared by the current eighth grade TAG class.
Sheldon re-joined the staff at Central Lyon in 2001. Fellow teacher Denise Snyders introduced Sheldon by calculating the number of minutes the pair spent in the hallway over the years. “Ten minutes each morning and four minutes between each class add up quickly. To be clear we are doing our teacher duties while standing together in the hallways but that hall duty meant much, much more to us,” said Snyders. “We shared hellos, hugs, laughs, tears and many discussions. We encouraged each other when we had difficult classes, we listened to each other’s weekend plans or house plans, we discussed politics and our days’ lessons and we cried tears of joy when our grandbabies were born.” In a tribute to Sheldon, Snyders and teacher Peggy Groves shared an alphabetical adventure that highlighted Sheldon’s career and passions. “She has lived her passions of cooking, baking, designing and quilting while sharing her talents with her students, friends and family,” said Snyders.
“It doesn’t seem possible that it’s my turn to be up here,” said Sheldon. “Thank you so much everybody for being here. Like Terry, there are so many people in this school that I need to thank that have made my journey of being a home ec teacher,” she said. Sheldon pointed out the many generations that have come through Central Lyon as one of the highlights of her teaching career. “That’s what’s so wonderful about teaching here, that we get a chance to have multiple parents and their children.” She also thanked the staff, administration and support staff. “All the staff here that are like family makes our job so much more enjoyable,” said Sheldon.
Before recognizing Joella, Central Lyon superintendent Dave Ackerman recalled hiring her as one of his first duties as superintendent. “I didn’t know a great deal about food service. I just knew we had to have someone in there that was going to get the job done and in walks Joella Postma,” said Ackerman. “Twelve years later she really got the job done. Our food service budget is the envy of a lot of schools in our area. The food we get every day is excellent. She’s made it work,” he said.
Sheri Boeve, a member of Joella’s kitchen staff, introduced Postma. Boeve joined Joella and the kitchen staff three years ago. “Before coming to CL, Joella worked about 17 years in nursing homes. To come and take the job at CL was probably a bit of a transition for her,” said Boeve. “Joella’s job is not easy. I know that in first person. She deals with budgets. She deals with meal planning. She deals with ordering. She deals with deliverymen coming and going at odd times. There’s something going on all the time,” she said. “Probably the hardest thing Joella has to deal with all the time is five women in the kitchen at once! Sometimes too many cooks spoil the pot,” expressed Boeve.
As Joella addressed the crowd, she also recounted her first days on the job. “The day I started, Mr. Ackerman took me to the elementary/middle school kitchen, showed me around, showed me where my office was going to be and then he left,” she explained. “There I was, standing in the middle of the biggest kitchen I had probably ever seen, and I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I was going to do.” She thanked the administration, Steve Breske and the custodial staff, the staff and kitchen employees. “One thing I admit, of the jobs I’ve had, I’ve enjoyed this one the most and had the longest,” Joella added. “So after 45 years working outside the home, it is time to have grandma time, start to collect IPERS and social security.”