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Pana district honors retiring staff Teachers: Several honored at year-end celebration.

Byline: Submitted by Pana Unit #8

The Pana School district recently honored retiring faculty and staff members with receptions at the high school and junior high. Retirees included:

*Harvey Stephen Bonser, a Michigan native, taught at Pana schools for nearly 15 years. He earned degrees from St. Louis University Parks College of Aeronautical Technology and Wayne State University. He and wife, Nancy, have three children.

Bonser worked in tool and die engineering before he began teaching, and he first taught at Redford Union High School.

His memories of teaching include watching motivated students follow and achieve their dreams. He says he will miss working with the bright minds, solving difficult problems. Highlights include the high school team winning the national championship in the Sea Perch Challenge, great trips to Huntsville, Georgia, U-Mass, LSU, and traveling from Texas to California with fantastic young adults. He said it was an honor to work with and observe so many interested students.

He plans to enjoy his family in retirement.

*Janet Dionne taught for 28.5 years at a Mid-State special education aide at Lincoln School. She graduated from Pana High School and attended Lake Land College. She plans to spend more time with her husband, Steve, her children, and her four sweet grandsons.

*Diane Hankins of Shelbyville taught for 27 years, mainly history. She attended Eastern Illinois University and earned her master's degree at Southern Illinois University. She also taught in Rantoul, Shelbyville, and Pinellas County, Florida.

Hankins said she will miss the excitement of enjoyed learning and interaction with her students. Her plans are to spend time with family and travel.

*Jody Hay of Pana, taught for 25 years at Washington and Lincoln Elementary schools is originally from Gurnee. She graduated from Warren Township High School and attended Illinois State University. She and husband, Dave, will celebrate 35 years of marriage in August.

Hay said she will miss the staff members and administrators she has worked with through the years. As her husband will be retiring from Ameren at the same time, they plan to travel, taking a trip to New Zealand next year.

*Sara Kallal taught for 20 years in Pana and is a graduate of Pittsfiled High School, and Northeast Missouri State University (now called Truman State). She and husband, Clyde, who pastored the First Assembly of God (later New Beginnings Church) in Pana, have two children and three

grandsons. She also taught in Las Vega, NV and in German while they were stationed there in the military.

Kallal said she has known since she was five years old that she wanted to teach.

She will now be in full-time ministry with her husband, do health coaching, and have lots of Grammy time.

*Kay Medley of Pana taught fourth grade for 27 years. She is a graduate of Taylorville High School and earned a bachelor's degree from Eastern Illinois University and teacher certification from Sangamon State University.

"It's always great when a student learns a new skill -- such as long division or when they get really excited about a new book they're reading," Medley says. Though she won't miss creating lesson plans and grading papers on weekends, disciplining students, or state testing, she will miss the students and staff at Lincoln School and the friendships she has there.

Her retirement plans include travel, visiting grandchildren, and reading.

*Karen Nance worked as a substitute aide and was hired as a library aide in 1993 at Jefferson Middle School. When it closed, she moved to the Junior High. She is a graduate of Pana High School and has also worked as a sales clerk at Dutch Mill and Fashion Lane, as a waitress, and even on an ice cream truck. She has one son, Nathan.

Nance said her favorite memories are all the staff she has worked with and friends she has made. She will miss interaction with the staff and students. "I thank God that I had many people who helped me," she said. Her plans for retirement are to take one day at a time and enjoy each one.

*Elsie Stewardson has taught as a paraprofessional and then in special education for a total of 25 years and is a graduate of Pana High School, Lake Land College and Sangamon State University. She has two children and seven grandchildren.

She plans to spend time with family and friends, tackle some home projects, and travel.

*Nancy Swenny has been a bus driver for 29.5 years and is a 1973 graduate of Pana High School. She has two children and five grandchildren. Her husband is the late Robert Swenny.

Swenny said she has lots of memories -- good and bad, but will mostly remember all the dedicated people she has worked with in the district. She will miss the kids, but will not miss driving in bad weather.

Her retirement plans include sleeping in, volunteering, and some travel.

*Barb Thompson has taught as a paraprofessional for 26 years. She is a graduate of Pana High School and Lake Land College. She has five children, two stepchildren and 10 grandchildren. She plans to spend time with her grandkids, family, and friends.
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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jun 12, 2019
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