Retirees Bruce Jones, Judy Dansby, Dee Wyatt along with phys ed teacher Dawn Sullivan (Joe Gawlik Footprints Photography and Video Productions)

For 35 years she has managed to juggle a career in education with that of a wife and mother. Her daily routine begins when she awakes by 3a.m. which is usually when her husband is getting out of the shower.

Retired and current teachers (Joe Gawlik Footprints Photography and Video Productions)

She has been asked time and time again why she feels the need to awake at such an early hour and the answer is quite simple. She needed to organize everything before she left for work from cleaning the house to when they were younger getting her kids ready for school.

Most mornings she was out of the house by 5:40am for a relatively short trip to the only place she had worked for these 35 years.She was just 22 when she started and just about everyone she worked with in those early years has since retired.She began as a Special Education teacher but before long knew that being a guidance counselor was her true passion.

So for a couple of years she would commute after work in pursuit of the Master’s degree that would land her a position that perfectly suited her and just as importantly the thousands of students she would come in contact with for the remainder of her career.

There was never a doubt about her commitment to her school and students but it paled in her commitment to her family. She was there for them 24/7, especially her two children. Often she was the stern parent while her husband was the friend and it was she who pushed them when it came to schoolwork and making sure tasks were completed on time.

Her husband was gone from early in the morning until at times late at night. It always seemed like he had a game or meeting or something else. Don’t get the impression he was an absentee father as he never missed any of his kids activities but she was really the one who ran the family and he knew it.There were bumps in the road, especially a bout with breast cancer more than a decade ago but with the help of family and friends she got through that and it’s not just a distant memory.

Today is the final day that she’ll get up, get organized and have to get herself off to Manchester Township High School, her second home for these 35 years. That’s because it’s the final day in her final year as retirement has called and she’s answered. This past weekend many of her colleagues (past and present) gathered to honor her during a retirement dinner and it was a perfect sendoff which included three of her former students. They were there because of the impact she has made in their lives. The true testament of what a counselor/educator should be and better than any plaque you can hang on the wall.

For 35 years my wife Jane Williams has put others first. Now it’s her time and I sure hope she sleeps past 3am.

Photos courtesy Joe Gawlik, Footprints Photography and Video Productions