THOMAS — The Snake River School District has announced the retirement of five long-term teachers and employees with the end of the school year this spring.

There is a retirement reception to be held in the retirees’ honor on Tuesday, May 17, from 4:15-6 p.m. in the Snake River High School cafeteria.

The five retirees are Neil Hillman, Deon Hillman, Paula Marshall, Gaydena Smith and Steve Schellenberg.

Neil and Deon Hillman

Neil Hillman began teaching in the Snake River School District in 1984. He taught eighth grade physical education and health for 32 years. He has spent the last six years teaching weights and physical education at the high school. During his teaching career, Neil has had the opportunity to teach over 7,000 students, over 3,000 driver education students, and coach over 1,000 student athletes in basketball, football, and track. Neil has always told everyone he meets that he has never worked a day in his life, because he loves teaching and coaching. Deon Hillman started her teaching career 23 years ago at Moreland Elementary. Deon has loved teaching first grade and has found her passion in teaching children the powerful skills that are reading and math. She has loved every student who has entered her classroom and truly believes each of them is the best of the best. Neil and Deon look forward to spending more time with their children and their 15 (soon to be 16) grandchildren. Deon hopes to travel while Neil hopes to enjoy copious amounts of time with his 200 head of black angus and Charolaise cattle. They eventually plan to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They also plan on continuing the walking Neil has done throughout the years with his PE students by going on daily walks together. Deon and Neil want to thank their family and the students, colleagues, administrators, and this amazing community who have all become valued friends

Paula Marshall

Paula Marshall, special education teacher, wife, mother, and grandmother is retiring after 21 years of teaching. Paula was born in New Mexico, raised and educated in New Hampshire, and earned her special education/elementary teaching degree from BYU in Provo, Utah. She taught her first two years at Gaston Elementary School in Gaston, Ore., while her husband Dennis attended Optometry School in Forest Grove, Ore. Later on in 2003 when her children were older she returned to teaching for the Snake River School District for six years at Moreland Elementary and for the last 13 years at Snake River High School. She has been recognized by both Moreland Elementary and Snake River High School as teacher of the year. Paula is married to Dr. Dennis Marshall and they have five wonderful children, Jim, Amanda, Tricia, Dustin and Cody, two sons-in-law, three daughters-in-law and 18 grandchildren. Family is everything to Paula and she hopes to have more time to spend with family after retirement. Paula has served the community in many capacities in the past including such things as church, scouting and being a member of the Snake River School-Community Library Board. She plans to continue being involved in helping others through family, community and church. Some of Paula’s interests are walking, hiking and biking. She loves curling up with a good book, mowing the lawn, and painting furniture. She enjoys having her friends and family visit and cooking for them. She loves the outdoors and nature. Snake River School District has been a great place to come to school every day. Paula is so appreciative of all those who have helped her in her teaching career and for all the friends she has made. The other teachers, paraprofessionals and administration have been very supportive and it has been rewarding working together to best serve the students. Paula has had joy and satisfaction watching her students learn and grow as she has created lessons to meet individual needs. She has had the opportunity to teach many different subjects, different ages and different exceptionalities.

Gaydena Smith

Gaydena has worked for the school district for 32 years, all of those years at Snake River High School in the special education department. She has also worked with students in Special Olympics for all of those 32 years. She has really enjoyed working with these students and seeing them grow and learn new things. She also has spent many, many years working at the ball games. Gaydena and her husband both love attending the ball games and cheering the kids on. They have been married for 50 years and have four children, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. After retirement, Gaydena plans on continuing to work at the Pocatello Idaho Temple and continuing with Special Olympics. She also plans on spending time with family, traveling and working in her garden. She will also spend time making quilts and other sewing projects. Gaydena says, “My years at Snake River have been amazing! I will miss my friends at work and the students as well.”

Steve Schellenberg

“July, 1995 found me sitting at a roll top desk in a small hot room with no windows, one file cabinet, and a table with one computer sitting on it pretending to be a server. Thus began my IT career of 27 years with Snake River School District. A few weeks earlier, I sat across the desk from Wayne Kroll after completing some repairs on the district office photocopier. He indicated the district was looking for a new tech person and asked if I was aware of it? I was somewhat but told him I hadn’t considered it. Later, he suggested I may want to apply. Which I did. In those days, this new “peg” called technology had no holes that it would fit in that pegboard of public education. It was all new, and exciting and quite foreign. Not so familiar like the cranky ThermaFax and ditto machines, or overhead projectors with transparencies. Many of us would be involved in shaping a hole that peg would fit.

Within two years there were about 300 computers that needed support. Email and internet hadn’t been introduced yet and each building was technologically isolated. Gradually, we connected buildings to each other through dialup modems which gave them a fledgling beginning to accessing the “Net” and email. Then towers were erected and building to building connectivity came through wireless with internet speeds which proved to be the turning point for technology usage at Snake River. For years, each building had at least one computer lab. Network speeds continued to increase. Software application relevancy continued to improve. Chromebooks became an affordable alternative to expensive computer labs. We took the leap of faith and went 1:1 with high school students and discovered there were multiple benefits to be gained by doing so. Mini-Grants with a very simple 4-step rubric were deployed to encourage a more diverse and applicable use of technology. This resulted in introducing new technology such as LCD projectors and document cameras into the classrooms to replace the old cumbersome overhead projectors. Our tech crew, Larry and Sam, have been top notch. Overall, we share the same goals and values in shaping the technology now and looking forward. They have added so much to this program. I count myself fortunate to have been a part of educating and preparing nearly 3,300 students during my career here in Snake River School District. Now I find myself needing to retire from this chapter of life and pass the baton on to those young bucks with fresh new ideas. I guess I am supposed to include something about my personal life. Hmmm, prior to starting this job, I remarried and went from four to eight kids, now have about 25-27 grandchildren with five great-grandchildren. It was so cool to be able to take a five generation photo last year. I still commute 35 minutes every day, have worn out four vehicles, and heavily support the oil industry. I love being out in the trees or in the garden or working with my hands fixing things, building things, and playing with the grandkids. When we fish, happiness is coming home with no fish to clean or eat. The ones who have no sense and swallow the hook clear down to their navel, well, we have a serious face to face talk about duty, responsibility, and accountability. But mostly about consequences before I put them on the stringer. Looking back, I am so glad I took Wayne’s advice and applied for the job. Everyone I have associated with have been wonderful to work with and will be part of the fond memories I will always cherish. In short, working for Snake River School District has been rewarding and has been a pleasure to serve. Alright? Bring on the next Chapter. I’m ready to go … after I take a short nap.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the reception in their honor and to wish them well on their next journey that they will be embarking on.

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