Longtime district employees honored
By Nic Corbett
It was hard for Camillus Middle School students to forget Valentine's Day was coming up when they walked into English teacher Donna Breen's classroom.
"My peers always say -- my students, too -- that I'm very, very big on holidays, as in every single holiday," Breen said.
Breen's sweaters and jewelry always reflect whatever holiday is approaching, and her colleagues like to tease her about it, she said. She has so many Christmas-themed outfits she could go from Thanksgiving to Christmas wearing them every day. Her classroom is filled with holiday-themed banners, posters, pencils, pads and signs.
"I know that sounds like that should be in third grade, but eighth grade kids enjoy getting the heart sticker or the Halloween sticker or the flag sticker on their homework," Breen said.
But as each holiday passes this year, Breen has begun to give away her classroom accessories to the newer teachers at Camillus. Breen recently announced her retirement after 34 years of working for the West Genesee Central School District.
She is one of many teachers and staff members expected to retire this year. So far, two have been approved by the Board of Education and two more sent in their letters of commitment. Camillus Principal Bob Honcharski would not place a number on how many more will retire, but Breen estimated there will be about six more.
Breen was one of the first teachers hired when Camillus opened more than 30 years ago. Many those teachers and staff members stayed at the school, and now they have reached retirement age.
"Most of the teachers retiring have been here since the very beginning," Honcharski said. "It's just getting to the point where they are eligible to retire and ready personally to retire."
Three others retired last year for the same reason. Honcharski said the school is equipped to replace those who have left and are leaving.