The Last Message From Dr. Bell  

June 05, 2018
Little did I know that when I stood in front of a classroom full of sixth grade students at Mount View School in the Omaha Public School System in January of 1972, that I had stumbled into a profession that I loved and would enjoy for almost 47 years. It has been quite the adventure. Each step along the way from Omaha to Grant to Gothenburg and then finally to Kearney, has had its challenges and its rewards. I have had the opportunity to work with so many fine students, parents, educational colleagues, and community members along the way. My life has been truly blessed by the many relationships that have created the mosaic of my career.

It would be literally impossible to individually thank all of the people who have helped me along the way. I think I summed it up best in the retirement quote I wrote for the NCSA Today. I wrote, “Individual accolades result from the collaborative, nimble efforts of so many. Thank you to all who helped make this 47 year career so rewarding and exponentially successful.”   

Educational Service Unit 10 has served as the perfect place for me to culminate my career in education. The members of the Board of Directors, past and present, have allowed me great latitude since 1994, as we have worked hard over the years to fulfill our mission “to partner with stakeholders to meet changing needs through professional expertise in providing services, learning opportunities and support.” This effort yielded one of the most memorable moments of my career in 2013, when I was awarded the opportunity to stand on stage in front of 1200 attendees at the Association of Educational Service Agencies Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, to receive the Justus A. Prentice Award as the most distinguished Educational Service Agency administrator in the United States. That was a humbling, yet satisfying, experience.     

None of this success would have been realized without the outstanding support of a quality staff employed here at ESU 10. I would like to highlight five individuals who will also be retiring this year. Their contributions have been instrumental and noteworthy to the success of this organization. Karen Verraneault serves as the Resource Services Coordinator and has been here 39 years. Don Erickson has been a Systems Engineer for 24 years. Dawna Sigurdson was my first hire after I arrived and has served as a School Psychologist with various other leadership roles for 24 years. Terry Spradlin worked in the ESU 10 Cozad Center as the Office Manager/Vocational Assistant/Transition Librarian for 12 years. And finally, Valerie K. Gwin has officially served as the Administrative Assistant for 36 years. Truth be told, I have forever nicknamed her “Elmer” because she truly has been the glue that has held this place together for so many years. Thank you to all of these individuals for their exemplary service.

All of these retirees will be missed, but as in all quality organizations there are superior employees in the wings ready and able to assume their tasks. This year is no exception. I wish my successor, Dr. Melissa Wheelock, and the entire ESU 10 family the best in the years to come. They serve a valued purpose in the state’s educational system and will continue to provide quality support to school districts long into the future.    
My final thought as I move into my retirement career is the hope that Pablo Picasso was right when he said, “It takes a long time to grow young.” 

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