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USD 428 celebrates 2020 retirees
428 new logo 2019

With the retirement of 15 teachers and staff in the 2019-2020 school year, USD 428 celebrated a cumulative 325 years of service to the students and families of Great Bend Schools. 

While Covid-19 disrupted plans for the traditional recognition banquet, the hard work and dedication of these individuals was marked with a special video tribute as well as each retiree receiving a red apple award and a Great Bend Chamber gift certificate intended to treat retirees to ‘dinner for two’ at a local restaurant. 

“This isn’t exactly the way I thought my career in education would end,” said Janelle Foote, retiring teacher from Jefferson Elementary.  “It has taught many of us patience and persistence, something we strive to teach the students.”

With 23 years of classroom experience, Foote has many anecdotes and memories, but her fondest thoughts and feelings center around the relationships she has created.

“Jefferson staff has become my second family,” said Foote. “The saying goes ‘it takes a village to raise children,’ I feel like our Jefferson staff and USD 428 is a great village.”

Lincoln Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Marla Davidson has worked for 25 years in USD 428.

“The greatest and most humbling compliments have been when graduating seniors take time from their last days of school to return to their kindergarten classroom and thank me for a great start to their public education,” said Davidson. 

Debbie Koelsch spent 25 years in USD 428, 13 years as a 5th-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary and the last 12 years as a counselor at Great Bend High School. 

As Koelsch embarks on her next chapter of life, she shared, “Both my elementary and high school co-workers have made a positive impact on my life - I will miss that daily interaction, and I absolutely treasure those relationships.”

In recounting a favorite memory, Koelsch spoke of advice she received from her 5th-grade students on how to be a high school counselor. Her wise students said, “do not wear your footed pajamas on pajama day, the high school students might make fun of you. And do not wear your KSU shirt - wear Great Bend Panthers!”

Retiring staff members include Joel Wilson, bus driver and grounds (34 years); Rhonda Snyder, secretary at Great Bend High School (30 years); Suzie Muth, paraprofessional at Eisenhower Elementary (29 years); Lana Kephart, paraprofessional at Hoisington Middle School (25 years); Donna Zimmerman, secretary at Riley Elementary (21 years);  Susan Brown, paraprofessional at Great Bend Middle School (20 years); Sandra Martin, paraprofessional at Hoisington Middle School (20 years); Trina Rector, teacher assistant at Great Bend Middle School (19 years); Sherri Kennedy, payroll assistant at District Education Center (16 years); Willie Reed, paraprofessional at Great Bend High School (16 years); Vera Reed, food service (16 years); Veronica Stoddard, food service.

“This class of retirees is very special,” said Khris Thexton USD 428 superintendent. “From countless hours of classroom instruction and support, thousands of miles behind the wheel of a bus, or hundreds of meals prepared by steady hands each week, we applaud the dedication of our 2020 retirees and thank them for lending their talents to our students and community. We wish our retirees the very best in this next chapter of life.”

For more information about recognition programs or careers in USD 428, visit or contact the District Education Center at 620-793-1500.

Watch the 2020 Retirees Video on YouTube at