School’s out for 11 county educators

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Last month, as school bells rang to signal the end of the school year and students rushed home to begin summer break, almost a dozen educators across Stillwater County locked their classroom doors for the last time.

A group of 11 educators retired this year, taking with them a combined total of about 400 years of experience.

These educators have worked with class after class of students, not only teaching content material, but also teaching life lessons, helping the communities’ young people grow and mature into well-rounded individuals. Many of them have spent countless hours outside of the classroom as coaches, advisors, cheerleaders, or simply active community members, supporting their students in a variety of ways.

These 11 educators have gotten to know and have cared for endless young people in the community. Here is a chance to get to know them.


Warren Boeck has been teaching for a total of 39 years. His first four years were spent in Hysham, but he has been a Husky since landing in Absarokee 35 years ago. At both schools, he taught fifth and sixth grades.

Throughout his career, Boeck has been a mentor for students not only in the classroom, but also on the field and on the court. He has served as head and assistant football coach, head and assistant basketball coach, assistant track coach, junior high football coach, junior high boys basketball coach, junior high track coach, and elementary track meet coordinator.

Boeck has coached in one Class B All-Star football game and in five Class C All-Star football games – a testament to his caliber of coaching.

In addition to his work with athletics, Boeck has served as activities director, school spelling bee coordinator, AEA union president, vice president, and negotiating team member.

According to Boeck, his favorite part of teaching has been watching the students’ eyes light up with excitement. He also enjoys catching up with former students later in their lives.

“Because I have been in Absarokee for the past 35 years, I have been fortunate to watch my students grow and mature into young men and women!” Boeck explains.

He will miss all of the interactions with his students, colleagues, and fellow coaches, but Boeck will still be busy during retirement. Golf, spending time with his family, and a little bit of traveling are on the agenda.

Absarokee Elementary School Principal Meredith Feddes describes Boeck as “the backbone of the school through many changes. He has been a mentor, teacher, and coach to many who remain in Absarokee and many who have gone off to other places.”

She described Boeck as “a teacher who earns the respect of his students through his discipline, care and concern for them.”

Feddes appreciated Boeck’s insightfulness, thoughtfulness, and support through a transition to a new administrator. She knows his presence “will be missed by the students and staff of Absarokee, but we wish him the best in retirement. Congratulations, Mr. Boeck, now go enjoy golf and grandchildren.”


LouAnn Atkinson has spent her entire 38-year career teaching with Absarokee Public Schools, and she “can safely say that each of these years with my students was a privilege.”

Atkinson considers herself lucky to have spent her career teaching language arts as well as public speaking to grades 6-9.

As Honor Society advisor, Atkinson had the opportunity “to interact with some of the best and brightest students from Absarokee.” She also taught journalism for several years and coached basketball for one season. Atkinson says it was an honor to serve as a substitute Close-Up advisor and accompany students to Washington, D.C., three times.

She also spent many, many hours taking tickets at extracurricular activities and participating in union negotiations as both a member and as president of the union.

One proud memory of Atkinson’s took place earlier this year, when two of her students – Adree Langley and Claire Hatch – won first and second place, respectively, at the County Spelling Bee. She also values all of the times AHS graduates have returned “to visit, thank me, ask for advice, or just share where their lives have gone.”

“I will miss the daily energy, enthusiasm, creativity and curiosity that kiddos bring to the classroom,” Atkinson says. “I will miss my teacher-family who have been both mentors and support.”

Atkinson will not slow down now that she has retired. In July, she will return to serving as the teacher ambassador for Zaner-Bloser publishing. A stack of novels has her name on them, so Atkinson plans to dig into those, and she also hopes to become more involved in the community.

A fair amount of traveling is also in Atkinson’s future, and she says, “A trip of a lifetime hangs just beyond the halls and buildings of AHS.

“As I close the door to my classroom it is with a certain amount of sadness, but there is joy in knowing that there will be other doors to open.”


Norma Glock has been with the Columbus School District for a half century. Glock taught for six years in Auburn, Calif., before moving back to Montana, where she has spent the past 50 years teaching generations of Columbus school kids.

Glock taught grades 2-8 during the first half of her career. The past 30 years she has served as the Columbus Middle and High Schools’ librarian.

During her time as librarian, Glock created many groups and clubs to involve students with varied interests. She held an annual Battle of the Books reading competition for the middle school kids, through which the top CMS competitors could face other area teams. Glock led a group of high school students to World Quest, a quiz-bowl type of competition, and she also began a Lego robotics club for elementary students. Most recently, Glock has begun hosting Poetry Out Loud regional competitions for high school students across the area.

Glock says she has enjoyed all of her 56 years of teaching. She started in Columbus at the old stone elementary school building (that has since been torn down), and she remembers colleagues such as Nellie Matovich, Florence Kem, and Ken Jenkins.

“The staff now (and all the others in between) are just as wonderful as the first,” Glock says. “Although society has changed a lot since I started, the kids are still kids whose mindsets grow and change as they mature.”

One of Glock’s favorite memories involves the excitement that surrounded the invention of the internet. She remembers how “a group of teachers laid the first cable in the old building. The first math lab was quite an achievement. Then, the internet became more commercialized and technology improved at such a rapid rate, it was hard to keep up with the changes.”

Along with missing Columbus students and staff, Glock says she will miss her morning routine of going through the front door and into the kitchen for “a cup of coffee and a cheery ‘Good morning,’ from the cooks.”

During retirement, Glock hopes to travel and develop some new hobbies. She is excited to have more time to read books of her choice, but Glock has a feeling she will probably still read the young adult novels and picture books she has been sharing with her students for a majority of her life.


John Smith says he has been in education his entire life, and 37 of those years – 16 as a special education teacher and 21 more as a physical education and health teacher – have been in Columbus.

Smith has been a staple of Columbus athletics. He was the head football coach for 24 years, bringing home one state championship and two second place finishes.

While the Cougar football teams under Smith were strong, he found the greatest success as the Stillwater Renegade head softball coach. In five years (2007-2011), the softball team racked up four state champion titles (three of them consecutively) and one second place trophy. The Renegades also finished third at state with Smith at the helm.

Coaching has been Smith’s favorite part of his career. He notes how special it is to see kids work hard and then reach their full potential.

Smith says he will miss the relationships with the students during his retirement, but he will not be absent from the school scene all together.

As the sole candidate, Smith will assume the position of County Superintendent of Schools next January following the retirement of current County Superintendent Judy Martin (see below for her profile). Through that position, Smith will interact with staff from all of the schools in the county, particularly the smaller schools.


George McKay has dedicated 38 years to education. He began his career in Cascade teaching science and social studies. After three years, he moved to Willow Creek, where he spent eight years teaching the same subjects.

After completing his master’s degree in education in administration, McKay moved to Columbus to serve as a principal for grades 7-9. He later transitioned into a 9-12 principal and has been a principal in Columbus for 26 years.

McKay’s favorite part of the job has been “working, living, and interacting with the students and their academics and activities.” For the most part, the job was enjoyable, he says, with only a few very stressful moments in the mix.

“Watching the students ‘grow’ in personality, academics, competitions and performances” has been a highlight for McKay. “Many, many students have gone through CHS, leaving innumerable memories.”

During retirement, McKay plans to tackle unfinished chores, do a little traveling (to nowhere exotic, though), and take up “a few useless hobbies.” He is looking forward to “being an audience to the changing school system as building improvements and staff replacements change the landscape of reaching and learning in Columbus.”

McKay adds that the Columbus community has treated his family well over the past 26 years, and he intends to “enjoy the ‘view’” of the community for several years to come.


Sue Greer has been in education since she graduated from California State University – Los Angeles in the mid-1970s.

She started as a substitute teacher in California, and held some longterm substitute positions for junior high and high school. After coming to Park City, she was a paraprofessional and parent volunteer before becoming a second grade teacher with the Park City School District, a position she has held for the last 15 years.

Seeing the students “get it” – watching the light bulbs go on and seeing the excitement and pride kids have after such a moment is Greer’s favorite part of teaching.

Also, she says, “Students continually surprise me with

their creative ideas and diverse methods in problem solving.”

Greer will miss her students, whom she notes as having “touched her heart,” as well as her colleagues. She describes the Park City teachers as a group that has “always been a strong team that works together for the good of the children. We support each other, laugh together, cry together.”

Travel is something Greer loves to do, and she plans to take advantage of her retirement to do just that – travel near (to visit her granddaughter in Colorado) and far (a European trip is currently in the works). She also plans to read and tend to her garden.

“I don’t sit very well,” Greer explains, “so I know that there are lots of unknown, wonderful adventures that I’ve never even dreamed of that are waiting for me.”

Park City Elementary Principal Janet Southworth describes Greer as a “joyful giver” who is “eager to share her passion for teaching with her co-workers and easily connects with her students’ parents.”

As for her work in the classroom, Southworth says Greer is “a caring, creative teacher that has always been about sharing the love of learning with her students. She is the teacher that nurtures students in developing their potential.”

Southworth appreciates all of Greer’s hard work, and says she will be missed.


Rapelje’s Beverly Wornom has been teaching for 30 years.

For the first 20 years of her career, Wornom taught in Perry, Okla. While there, she taught preschool, kindergarten, second, fourth, and sixth grades. Wornom was also the sixth grade boys and girls basketball coach.

She has been in Rapelje the last 10 years, where she taught third and fourth grade for the first five years and music for the last five. The music job included elementary music, third and fourth grade recorders, fifth and sixth grade band, and junior high/high school band.

“I have always enjoyed the interaction with my students and being able to see the pride on a student’s face when a challenge is met or a goal is accomplished,” Wornom explains.

She describes teaching in Rapelje as a “rewarding experience,” and she says she will always cherish her time in Rapelje and remember the closeness of the school and the community.

Wornom had quite the daily commute to work the past 10 years, and she says, “I will remember the many miles I put on my vehicle, the winter roads, and the beautiful scenery I got to enjoy as I drove 44 miles from my home northwest of Laurel to Rapelje.”

Traveling with her husband in their RV and visiting her children and their families in Maryland and Oklahoma are in Wornom’s future. She will continue to serve on the PEO board (a women’s philanthropic education group) for a couple more years.

“I’m sure I will be able to fill my newly found so called ‘free time’,” Wornom says.

Rapelje Superintendent Jerry Thompson describes Wornom as “a tremendous asset for our school system.”

He says, “She did an excellent job as an elementary teacher before she semi-retired and became our part-time music teacher. She did a great job with the music program and directed some awesome concerts.”


Carol Thompson has worked with Rapelje schools for 21 years. She was both the librarian and the guidance counselor.

Superintendent Jerry Thompson commended Carol’s outstanding job promoting the reading program in Rapelje, saying the students love to read and go to the library.

“In her role as school counselor, Mrs. Thompson has also been instrumental in helping our graduating seniors receive numerous scholarships over the years,” Jerry says.


After a 35-year career in education, Jerry Thompson has also retired. For a majority of that time – 25 years – Thompson has been a superintendent. He also spent six years as a teacher, teaching business education, PE, and drivers education, and four years as a principal.

Thompson has been the superintendent in Rapelje for the last 21 years; before that, he taught in Froid, Hob-son, and Winifred.

Coaching has also been an important part of Thompson’s career. He coached boys basketball for 22 years, football for six years, and girls basketball for four years.

One of Thompson’s favorite memories from Rapelje was coaching the 2016 boys basketball team. The team, behind a starting lineup of underclassmen – one junior, three sophomores, and one freshman – qualified for the state tournament after a couple upset wins at the divisional tournament. After a big loss to 6C rival Plenty Coups in the district tournament, the Renegades flipped the script to beat the Warriors by 21 to advance to state.

Thompson’s favorite part of teaching is “to watch the joy and excitement on the faces of the primary age students as they begin to have success academically, as they are so eager to learn.”

As he moves into retirement, Thompson says he will miss being around the students. As he explains, “There is something about being around young people that keeps you feeling young, and they always seem to put a smile on my face.”

Thompson plans to travel and play more golf during retirement. He will also spend some extra time with his grandchildren.


Chick Brogan is the lone retiree from Reed Point. She has taught junior high and high school for 23 years, the last 11 in Reed Point, as well as one year of adult education. Before stopping in Reed Point, Brogan taught in Rosebud, Malta, and Glasgow.

Teaching Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) is Brogan’s forte, but she has also taught consumer math, computer skills, and Title 1. She trained restaurant cooks and baker in adult education.

Hand-in-hand with FCS classes comes Family Career and Consumer Leaders of America (FCCLA), and Brogan was a very active advisor. She began the FCCLA program in Rosebud.

Many of Brogan’s favorite memories took place during FCCLA events, especially each trip she took with students to the FCCLA national conference. Through FCCLA, she has seen her students turn into leaders, and in the 11 years Brogan has been in Reed Point, her chapter has supplied a state officer six times.

Brogan loves interacting with students. She describes it this way: “The kids are what makes you get up every morning; they make you smile and laugh, they give you hope for the future, and they become your own.”

The kids and FCCLA will both be missed by Brogan. She will also miss her fellow staff members, whom she describes as family, as well as her fellow District 10 FCCLA advisors for being a very important part of her journey.

“There is not a better place I could have finished by career than Reed Point,” Brogan explains. “The community is loaded with awesome, supporting people; the kids are amazing and the staff like none I’ve ever worked for – close, caring and supporting. Every day was a great day to be a Renegade.”

Brogan will not sit idly during retirement – she already has some big plans in the works such as several trips, including a country music cruise to the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Spoiling her grandsons is also on Brogan’s agenda.

“I plan to never see another snowflake and spend every moment I can trying to ‘Seas the Day’ with the toes in the sand and listening to the waves crashing,” Brogan says.


Judy Martin, while no longer a classroom teacher, is the retiring County Superintendent of Schools. She will transition out of her position at the end of this year.

Martin taught K-12 physical education and health for Columbus Public Schools for 30 years before becoming county superintendent. She was the Columbus track and field coach for 35 years, during which time she led state champion team.

As County Superintendent, Martin has worked for county schools for 12 years. The smaller area schools – Molt, Fishtail, and Nye – were of specific importance to Martin.

Kathy Currie, Nye’s teacher, has appreciated all of Martin’s support.

“When Judy came onboard as county superintendent, she immediately became a hands-on administrator for the three one-teacher schools in Still-water County,” Currie explains. “Over the years, she has contacted each teacher on a regular basis with supportive comments and offers of help in any area of need.”

Currie describes Martin as a “strong leader,” and says the small schools will miss her.