WESTMINSTER, Vt. – With a combined 76 years of service between them, two of Kurn Hattin Homes for Children’s most beloved teachers retired this month as the school year came to a close. Teachers Mary Kay Pfadenhauer and Ann Hadley were recognized at a surprise Retirement Celebration which included the children, staff, friends, and the educators’ families. “If I could write a script for a perfect retirement send off, this would be it! I wouldn’t change a thing,” Mary Kay Pfadenhauer said exuberantly. Pfadenhauer, who just completed a nearly forty-three year teaching career, started working at Kurn Hattin Homes in 1974. Mary Kay later taught nearly every grade level in the school, and a variety of subjects. “I started out teaching reading, then 7th and 8th Grade sciences; but Kindergarten through Second Grade, that’s my calling,” she said with a smile.
For teacher Ann Hadley, who started out as a full-time 5th Grade teacher at Kurn Hattin in 1983, it was the fulfillment of a long-held ambition. Ann was born and raised in Bellows Falls, and attended Castleton College. Her father was a teacher and a coach, and she remembers always wanting to teach others, as well. “We played school, as children. I put my brother at a desk and played the teacher. I got to boss him around.” She explained that she enjoys working with children in the 4th and 5th grades because they are “still young enough to be read to, and are more uninhibited. They are creative in that way of being imaginative, making up stories, and drawing.” Both Mary Kay and Ann reflected on the special bond with their co-workers, describing them as caring and supportive of one another, as well as the children.
The teachers were honored with thoughtful, light-hearted speeches and anecdotes about their body of work and individual teaching styles by Principal Noah Noyes, their co-workers, and the students. Executive Director Steve Harrison read a list of significant historical and pop culture events that occurred the year that each started at the school. Alumni of the school sent in their thanks and best wishes; and their quotes were read aloud to the tearful crowd. Ann said with some amazement, “It is unbelievable to hear from those kids about the first day that they walked into your room, and to realize that you had such an impact.” The two were then presented with gifts, cards, and a special goodbye concert by the youngest members of the Children’s Chorus. Mary Kay summarized, “It’s like that old saying, When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.”
Since 1894, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children has helped thousands of at-risk children and their families by offering a safe home and quality education in a nurturing environment. Kurn Hattin transforms the lives of children and their families forever. www.kurnhattin.org