Ten employees retire from SDRF

Posted 7/5/22

RIVER FALLS – At the end of the 2021-22 school year, the School District of River Falls paid tribute to 10 employees who retired. Their years of service to the school district and students is …

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Ten employees retire from SDRF


RIVER FALLS – At the end of the 2021-22 school year, the School District of River Falls paid tribute to 10 employees who retired. Their years of service to the school district and students is greatly appreciated and they will be missed.

Becky Behrends

Meyer Middle School special education teacher Becky Behrends retired after 35 years in education, 32 of those years within the River Falls School District.

“Becky dedicated her career to helping students be their best. She did this through high expectations, empathy and genuine kind- ness. She was a selfless educator and she will be missed,” said MMS Principal Wes Chapin.

Susan Boyer

MMS special education paraprofessional spent 25 years with SDRF, and 36 years total in education.

“Sue will be missed at Meyer Middle School by her colleagues and students. As a paraprofessional Sue came to work every day with a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and kindness in her heart,” said Chapin.

Jacqueline Cobian

Jackie Cobian was a route bus driver for the River Falls Bus Garage for 20 years.

“Jackie has been a very important part of our team down at the bus garage. She has always been willing to step up and help whenever she can. Jackie, please enjoy your retirement and thank you for your years of dedication to the School District of River Falls,” said Transportation Director Todd Burnap.

Charles Eaton

Rocky Branch Elementary School Principal Charles “Chuck” Eaton has retired after 23 years with the district, 32 years in education.

“Chuck will always be remembered as a person who loved supporting his staff and who would give the shirt off his back to help others. He has a passion for the environment and enjoyed sharing that love with students. Chuck was a trusted, loyal, and consummate professional. Thank you for your many years of service, and enjoy your retirement!” said Superintendent Jamie Benson.

Jill McCarthy

After six years with SDRF and 20 years in education, Westside Elementary special education teacher Jill McCarthy has retired.

“Jill has had a tremendous impact on Westside. She works hard with her students and helps them grow tremendously academically. Beyond that she cares deeply for her students and has gone above and beyond for them on a regular basis to help put them in the best spot to succeed. We will miss her at Westside,” said Principal Dr. Christopher Kamrath.

Debra Ottman

River Falls High School Family & Consumer Sciences teacher Deb Ottman is retiring after 26 years with the district. She spent 34 total years as a educator.

“Deb Ottman is a professional educator who never settles, constantly evolves in teaching methods, curriculum, and instruction. She leads by doing, has always been student-centered from day one and serves as an outstanding colleague and mentor to many of our younger faculty. Thank you for your many years of service, congratulations on your retirement, and we are confident you will be even busier than ever with family, friends, and all of those side projects you have going on,” said RFHS Principal Kit Luedtke.

Susan Popelka

RFHS math teacher Susan Popelka is hanging up teaching equations after 25 years in the district and 41 years total in education.

“Sue Popelka demonstrates daily a love for students and mathematics and learning. She is a consummate professional and building leader who is creative, compassionate, and brings joy and energy to students that is contagious. Thank you for your many years of service, congratulations Sue on your retirement, spend plenty of time travelling, and spoiling those grandkids!” said Luedtke.

Jacqueline Steinhou

Director of Student Services Jacqueline Steinhou is retiring after 17 years in the district and 34 years in education.

“Jackie will always be remembered as a person with a big heart who loves children. Thank you for supporting our parents and staff when they needed to advocate for the special needs of children. We wish you well in your retirement, and thank you for your years of service to the River Falls community,” said Benson.

Kristine Swanson

After 45 years in education and 15 years in the River Falls School District, Rocky Branch Elementary music teacher Kristine Swanson is celebrating retirement.

“Kris Swanson has been instrumental in the musical development of more than 6,000 students over the past 15 years. Her creativity and ability to lead students as they develop their musical skills year by year has been recognized throughout the River Falls community. Kris has written many grants providing experiences such as Opera for the Young and high quality musical instruments to expand understanding and interest in music for all students at Rocky Branch,” said Principal Chuck Eaton.

Joseph Young

Rocky Branch Elementary fifth-grade teacher Joe Young taught in the district for 28 years, spending 30 total years as an educator.

“Joe Young has taught at Rocky Branch for the last 28 years in multiple grade levels. Joe has shared his love of art by drawing a portrait of each student in his classroom. Over the years Joe has also shown his passion for environmental education by incorporating multifaceted learning experiences such as hydroponics and raising brown trout in his classroom. Joe’s students will be the first to let you know that learning is fun in Mr. Young’s room,” said Eaton.

Submitted by River Falls School District

River Falls School District retirees were honored at a banquet at the end of the school year. Pictured are (from left) Jackie Steinhoff, Kristine Swanson, Chuck Eaton, Joe Young, Susan Boyer, Deb Ottman, and Sue Popelka. Not pictured: Becky Behrends, Jackie Cobian and Jilly McCarthy.

Photo courtesy of School District of River Falls.