The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 2, 2013

Retiring educators see many changes


DANVILLE — As education has evolved during the last three decades, employees of Danville District 118’s administration building have kept up with the changes.

Director of educational support Diane Hampel, human resources director Kathy Houpt and middle school instructional math coach Ellen Wright all retired last month from the Jackson Building.

“Accountability has been one of the biggest changes in education since I first became a teacher,” Hampel said.

“Especially since No Child Left Behind was passed in 2001, schools have been required to become increasingly accountable for student learning. As a result of this, we have become much more precise about teaching and learning and now think of teaching as a science,” she said.

“Although we have seen many changes in the past 30 years, I believe the next few years will see even more change in public education,” Hampel said.

“Collaboration among teachers, standards-based teaching and reporting and the integration of technology in the classroom all make this a very exciting time to be in this profession.”

Wright said she has seen changes, also.

“When I first began teaching, parents were very supportive of teachers,” she said. “We work so hard to get parents to be involved in their child’s education today.

“Education is cyclical,” Wright added. “The new Common Core state standards and practices encourage teachers to instruct learning goals in depth using hands-on learning and group work. This is how I was trained at (Illinois State University) more than 35 years ago.”

The three district employees had plenty of memories to share during their time in the classroom.

“Although I loved every job I have had, the time I spent teaching second grade was very special,” Hampel said. “One year, my class (with a little help from their parents) arranged a surprise birthday party for me.

“Although 7-year-olds are usually not known for keeping secrets, not one of them breathed a word of what was happening,” she said. “When I walked into the classroom after lunch, they totally surprised me.

“They were so proud of themselves planning a great celebration and keeping it under wraps,” Hampel said. “It was so thoughtful and something I will always remember.”

Houpt said, “My favorite memories are the connections with students. It’s hard to beat trusted conversations with middle school students or hugs from elementary students.

“When I am in the halls at Danville High School, I still get hugs from some of those former elementary students. It means a lot to me to see them grow and to see that they remember me,” she said.

“I can’t just talk about the students,” Houpt continued. “I wish people understood just how dedicated our teachers and teaching assistants, our secretaries and all other staff members are. They’re in the profession because they care about our kids. I am so proud to have worked with them. It is a privilege to have been part of the District 118 family.”

Wright said, “My favorite memories are when former students share their memories from being in my classroom. Knowing that they remember drives me to work harder with students.”

The three retirees agreed it will be odd not to prepare for the start of school come August.

“I’ll miss that everyone will start (school) without me, but then I’ll play a round of golf,” Houpt said.

“It will be different,” Hampel said. “From the time I was 6, I spent all but seven years at District 118.”

Wright concurred. “I spent all but four years in District 118.”

Still, the three had plans for how they were going to spend their retirement.

“I’m just going to relax and see what comes up,” Hampel said.

Houpt said. “I’m going to relax, play golf and work as an educational consultant.”

Wright planned to remodel her house, spend time with her grandchildren and travel.

Also retiring from the Jackson Building last month were Pam Foster, secretary, 11.5 years; Nancy Ingargiola, secretary, 18 years; Barb Nelson, secretary, 38 years; and Cindy Pittman, secretary, 23 years.

Diane Hampel

Position: Director of educational

support programs

Age: 56

Education: Graduate of Danville High School and Eastern Illinois University, Charleston

Experience: Thirty-one years with

District 118, 18 years of which as a teacher including special education resource, kindergarten and second grade at Cannon, Roselawn, Northeast, Douglas and Edison elementary schools; five years as Title I

coordinator; four years as principal of

Liberty Elementary School; and four years as director of educational support

Kathy Houpt

Position: Director of human resources

Age: 61

Education: Graduate of Danville High School; Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University; Master of Arts from Valparaiso University; and Doctorate of Education from University of Illinois

Experience: Eleven years with District 118 as substitute teacher, teaching

assistant, curriculum coordinator, North Ridge Middle School assistant principal, Northeast Elementary School principal,

director of secondary education and

director of human resources; three years at East Side Junior High School in Anderson, Ind.; seven years at Fegely Middle School in Portage, Ind.; and 19 years with Harcourt Brace School Publishers

Ellen Wright

Position: Middle school instructional math coach

Age: 56

Education: Graduate of Danville High School; bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Illinois State University, Normal; and master’s degree in

elementary and middle school education from Eastern Illinois University, Charleston

Experience: Thirty-five years with

District 118 as the district’s audio-visual specialist, beginning computer skills teacher for gifted middle school students, seventh-grade math teacher at East Park Junior High School, fifth-grade teacher at East Park Elementary School, seventh-grade math teacher at South View Middle School, seventh-grade math teacher at North Ridge Middle School, sixth-grade math and science teacher, and middle school instructional math coach.