It is an honor to be here. On behalf of myself and our school board members: Yadira Martinez, Mark Watson, Jaci Spross, Martin Granum, Erika Lopez, See Eun Kim, and Lisa Allen, I would like to thank you for your years of service to our students. Both the board and I are so disappointed that we cannot be together in person to celebrate your work and all that you've done for our students, but we appreciate this opportunity to celebrate you virtually.
It's often been said that educators are those people that open doors for kids - doors to opportunity, doors to success, gatekeepers. Oftentimes our students show up with backgrounds that leave little opportunity for a gate to escape their circumstances. For many of our students, you have been that gate. You have provided opportunity.
We are here today to thank you for that and to celebrate your work. To thank you for the difference you have made and the gates you have opened for our students.
We have 66 staff members retiring this year - 36 classified, 29 licensed, and one administrator. Combined, our retirees have 1,268 years of service!
Seven people have between 25 and 29 years of service. When you joined the District, the most popular social media platform was MySpace! We were all worried about Y2K. "Austin Powers" was the most popular movie. Two popular songs were "Smooth" by Santana and "Hit Me Baby One More Time" by Brittany Spears. Postage was 33 cents, and a gallon of gas was $1.22.
Eleven people have 30 or more years of service. If you think back 30 years when these folks were getting started in their teaching, here are some of the cultural phenomena that were occurring. It is very likely that when they started teaching, they had recently been to the movies to see: "Driving Miss Daisy," "Field of Dreams" (If you build it, they will come...), "When Harry Met Sally," "Little Mermaid," and "Rain Man," which won the Oscar that year. When they started teaching in Hillsboro, the average price of a new home was $120,000.
One of our retirees, Debbie Mishler, served the Hillsboro School District for 40 years! Forty years ago, in 1981, McNuggets first appeared on the menu at McDonald's. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter was a new product on the market. "Dynasty" premiered on TV, and MTV showed its first music video. Popular movies were "Arthur" and "Stripes." The top song was "Our Lips are Sealed" by the Go-Go's. Gas was $1.31 per gallon. The first computer mouse, intended for personal use, was released.
Regardless of the year you started, the trends that have come and gone, or the years of service that you have provided, there is one thing that has remained the same: your commitment to our students. The care, compassion, and dedication you have shown. We are here today to appreciate the work you have done and the opportunities you have provided for our students.
You realized early on that you were not just teaching history, math, reading, science, or special education. That you were not just serving as an assistant to those students in the ERC or just helping our English Language Learners. You understood that you weren't just driving a bus or supervising the playground. You understood that you were working with children, you were molding lives, and the work you do makes a difference. You have understood that each student enters our doors with a unique story, with many different backgrounds, with many different needs.
You have been a model for so many students. You have valued the strengths of our students. You have looked for the ways in which students can contribute. You have understood that it is not just the destination that matters, but it is the journey as well. You have understood that there is no avoiding the tough situations - it's your reaction to them that matters. You have made school a fun place to be and an important place to be. The work you have done for our students is amazing. You welcome them in, you make them feel special, you have helped them grow academically, you have fed them, you have listened to them, you have cared for them. You have served students who have gone on to achieve great things. You have served students who have and will make a difference in this world. You have served students who face incredible challenges. You have refused to believe that a student's demographics will determine their destiny.
Your values, your life's work - is written on the hearts of these students and the countless others you have impacted. Thank you for all you've contributed to the students, to the staff, to the community, and for the difference you have made in the lives of our students. As you move into retirement, I hope that you get to laugh every day, that you get to enjoy your family as never before, and that you never have to worry about another lesson plan, recess duty, or staff meeting again.