(The following story was published in The Valley News, of Shenandoah, on June 16, 2018. It was written by Editor-in-Chief Tess Nelson.)
SHENANDOAH, Iowa -- Four Shenandoah Community School District employees retired at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. They were, Sandy Hilding, high school principal; Phyllis Fundermann, elementary teacher; JoAn Ullerich, bus driver; and Joe Skahill who was a bus driver, paraprofessional, custodian and transportation supervisor.
Corby Fichter, president of the Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation said the district will miss the experience and dedication shown by the four. He added they have given countless amounts of time and talents to not only the Shenandoah district, but neighboring districts as well.
“We want to sincerely thank each of one of them personally for their work and service to our youth, our communities, and to their fellow teachers. Their service of excellence and their passion to serve has truly made a difference to our youth and to all they have touched along the way,” Fichter said. “Our foundation wishes each of one of these retirees all the best in their retirement and their next life journeys.”
Hilding started teaching high school mathematics in Shenandoah in 1991. After 10 years, she went back to school and obtained her administrative license; accepting a position with the Farragut Community School District as the 7-12 principal/activities director. She returned to SHS in 2008 as high school principal.
“My first plan for retirement is just to do some fun stuff that I haven’t had time for in a long time, like gardening, playing the piano, spending time with our family and reading. Beyond that I know I will do something else, but just like some of my class of 2018, I’m not sure what,” Hilding said.
On top of that, she said she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Curt, two children, Chris and Stephanie, five grandchildren and a soon-to-be-born great-grandchild.
Fundermann has been in education for 32 years, starting in the Malvern Community School District teaching fifth grade. For the past 23 years, she has taught in Shenandoah.
“I began as a TAG instructor, then moved to fifth-sixth grade social studies. Fourth grade has been my home since then,” said Fundermann.
She is looking forward to being able to help on the family farm more, as well as have more time for photography, yard work and the orchard.
“My mom and her two sisters get together to quilt each week. I am planning on joining them,” Fundermann said. “Hopefully being retired will free up some time for me to sneak more of my hobbies and since the grand kids live so close, I will be able to spend more time spoiling them, too.”
Phyllis’ eldest daughter, Ciera, resides with her husband in Council Bluffs; son Ethan and his wife live in Red Oak and have two children, Ellie, 5, and Case 1 ½, and daughter Haley is in the process of purchasing her first home in Clarinda. Phyllis also became engaged to Brad Davis in April. “I have a wonderful, loving family,” she said.
Fundermann said she and Davis would like to do some traveling as well, now that she retired.
“I don’t think I will have any trouble finding things to keep me busy.”
In February of 1989, Ullerich began driving a bus for the Shenandoah district and has kept the same route since 1991.
“I really enjoyed all my route kids, they were family,” Ullerich said.
Now that she’s retired, Ullerich said she’d like to volunteer more at People For Paws and finish up on their house remodel.
After 38 years with Parker Hannifin in Red Oak, Skahill joined the district wearing many different hats over the past three years. “In retirement I plan on keeping myself busy traveling, working in the vineyard, and playing with our dogs,” he said.