Alpine School District couple retires after 37 years 01

Rena and Gary Dunn pose for a portrait in Rena's classroom at Orchard Elementary on Thursday, May 21, 2015. The Dunn's are both retiring after 37 years with the Alpine School District this year. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

UTAH COUNTY — Gary and Rena Dunn have taught a total of 74 years (mostly) in Alpine School District — that's nearly three quarters of a century, seven decades or for students 74 spring breaks. Now it’s time to retire, they say. Both started teaching in 1978 and are leaving academia at the same time.

Gary is retiring from TV/radio production at Highland’s Lone Peak High School where he’s been 18 years. Before that he worked in the media center at Orem High School for 18 years. His first year of teaching was as a math instructor at Spanish Fork High School; all of this adds up to masses of students instructed across the valley.

Elementary school teaching is Rena’s forte. She’s taught first, second and third grades at Orchard Elementary in Orem over 28 years. Prior to that she taught first grade at Aspen Elementary for six years and Windsor Elementary for three years, both in Orem. However, before graduating from Brigham Young University she taught for half a year in Blanding, so technically she has a half year more than her husband’s 37.

They’ve raised four sons during their teaching careers, and that’s one reason they are retiring — one of their two adult sons presented them with a grandson three weeks ago.

“I got to babysit him last night,” said Rena with a smile.

“We want a year being grandparents,” Gary said. “Then we’ll go on an LDS mission. After that we’ll see how the retirement goes.”

For Rena, a full retirement will not be the case.

“I teach Navajo at BYU,” she said. Rena, of the Navajo tribe, teaches Navajo students whose parents speak Navajo, returned missionaries or spouses married to a Navajo.

She just finished a Native American unit with all third grade classes at Orchard Elementary where students had the rare opportunity to hear the Navajo language spoken and other Native American music and stories Rena shared.

Rena is usually called “Mrs. Dunn,” but many times she hears the students refer to her as “Mom,” “Grandma” and “Dad.” Teaching first graders was a delight for Rena because, “What they learn is so noticeable."

“When they come in they can’t read or write, but by the time they leave they are writing sentences and stories. They are reading. I pat myself on the back and say, ‘I helped them do that.’ ”

Gary’s highlights from decades of teaching are a bit different while working with high schoolers. He initiated the Utah High School Film Festival 25 years ago.

“About 24 schools in Utah participate — they make their own movies in a dozen different categories.”

The Lone Peak High School teacher is the adviser for student council; thus he started the Dixie Leadership Conference which convenes each summer in St. George. The 500 students learn leadership skills, do service projects, have a swimming party, dance and see a musical at Tuacahn Amphitheater, according to Gary.

With sadness, he sees how the students have changed over the past 10 to 12 years.

“Students have more pressure on them to succeed than they used to,” Gary said. “They feel more of an obligation to do well and it gets harder and harder for them.”

Rena notices it in her young students as well.

“They are involved in so many extracurricular activities — maybe two or three after school,” she said.

From dance and piano to soccer, karate and softball, they are so busy. With less time for homework, many a child comes to school with the reasoning “I didn’t get my project done” instead of "my dog ate my homework."

“Some can handle the big load and are responsible enough,” she said, but she’s seen the pressure build on students gradually during the last five to 10 years.

Technology has changed drastically since 1978 when she started teaching.

“Every child knows how to use an iPhone, iPad and computer and how to play the games,” she said. “As they are more involved in technology; I wonder if books will become obsolete.”

After teaching, nurturing and guiding young minds, some might wonder why 37 the magic number to retire?

“It seemed right,” said Gary.

“You need to have some time for your next stage of life,” Rena added.

“We’ve been taking it one year at a time — at 30 years we were not ready to go,” he said. “We’ve been saying ‘one more year’ for seven years! We made up our minds early this year.”

Retiring Utah County educators and workers

The following list of retirees throughout Utah County school districts and  their associated schools and service was compiled by Barbara Christiansen and Karen Hoag.

Alpine School District

Allan, Sylvia; principal/Vineyard Elementary, served 15 years.

Anderson, Laila; teacher/Aspen Elementary, served 33 years.

Atkin, Laura; teacher/Geneva Elementary, served 30 years.

Bahr, Kim; teacher/Traverse Mountain, served 20 years.

Bandley, Melinda; teacher/Scera Park Elementary, served 20 years.

Bearce, Charles; director/physical facilities, served 27 years.

Bearden, Annette; counselor/Mountain Ridge Jr. High, served 28 years.

Bethers, Kimberlee; teacher/Shelley Elementary, served 23 years.

Bowman, Karl; principal/Harvest Elementary, served 30 years.

Brown, Dianne; counselor/Timberline Middle, served 23 years.

Brown, Vivien; teacher/Lone Peak High, served 21 years.

Bullock III, Raymond Toby; Vista Heights Middle, served 15 years.

Busby, Sharon; teacher/Willowcreek Middle, served 22 years.

Busby, Thomas; teacher/Canyon View Jr. High, served 28.5 years.

Card, Tammy; special ed coordinator, served 31 years.

Clark, Kay; director/special education, served 24 years.

Clegg, Linda; teacher/Lindon, served 27 years.

Clement, Matthew; teacher/Canyon View Jr. High, served 31 years.

Colyar, Cheryl; teacher/Westfield Elementary, served 22.5 years.

Dominguez, Cheryl; teacher/Traverse Mountain, served 35 years.

Dunn, Gary; teacher/Lone Peak High, served 33 years.

Dunn, Rena; teacher/Orchard Elementary, served 37 years.

Eisenhart, Donnalee; teacher/Timpanogos, served 39 years.

Ellis, Kathleen; teacher/Cedar Ridge Elementary, served 27 years.

Fugal, Mary; teacher/Willowcreek Middle, served 8 years.

Gadd, Karl; teacher/Oak Canyon Jr. High, served 32 years.

Gonzalez, Kimberly; teacher/Scera Park Elementary, served 36 years.

Graham, Kristi; teacher/Foothill Elementary, served 28 years.

Greenhalgh, Blaine; teacher/Polaris High, served 26 years.

Griffin, Teresa; teacher/Oak Canyon Jr. High, served 31 years.

Gunn, Jean; special ed served, 26.5 years.

Gurr, Helen; teacher/Saratoga Shores Elementary, served 20 years.

Hacken, Sara; teacher/Lakeridge Jr. High, served 30 years.

Hall, Myrna; teacher/Orem High served, 31 years.

Hampton, Nallene; teacher/Highland Elementary, served 24 years.

Henshaw, Vernon; superintendent, served 34 years.

Hill, Eda; teacher/Foothill Elementary, served 32 years.

Hill, Terry; principal/Timberline Middle, served 35 years.

Hinckley, Norma; teacher/Legacy Elementary, served 36 years.

Hortin, Ozeanna; teacher/Scera Park Elementary, served 20 years.

Horton, Jan; teacher/Timpanogos High, served 21 years.

Innes, James; teacher/Lehi Junior High, served 26 years.

Knight, Craig; teacher/North Point, served 35 years.

Lunt, Marianne; teacher/Legacy Elementary, served 20 years.

Lyons, Anita; teacher/Shelley Elementary, served 34 years.

Marrott, Vickie; teacher/Barratt, served 24 years.

Marshall, Elaine; teacher/Ridgeline Elementary, served 15 years.

McNew, Karen; teacher/Manila, served 25 years.

Melville, James; principal/Freedom Elementary, served 39 years.

Mildenstein, Paula; teacher/Suncrest Elementary, served 21 years.

Miller, Danny; teacher/Orem High, served 31 years.

Nielson, Linda; teacher/Pleasant Grove High, served 27 years.

Olson, Luanne; director/instructional media, served 22 years.

Openshaw, Fred; principal, Westlake High, served 26 years.

Pangan, Rosemary; teacher/Bonneville Elementary, served 24 years.

Patton, Suzan; speech language pathologist, served 17 years.

Peterson, Brenda; teacher/Lehi High served, 27 years.

Peterson, Paula; counselor/Lehi Junior High, served 28 years.

Peterson, Sheree; teacher/Fox Hollow, served 38 years.

Pope, Nancy; teacher/Alpine Elementary, served 32 years.

Reber, Sue; teacher/Oak Canyon Jr., served 16 years.

Revelli, Steven; teacher/Lone Peak High, served 29 years.

Schow, Dianne; teacher/Canyon View Jr., served 15 years.

Shepherd, Michelle; teacher/Lone Peak High.

Sigman, Susie; speech language pathologist, served 25 years.

Sleight, Karen; teacher/Lehi Elem, served 15 years.

Stiman, Barbara; teacher/Dan Peterson, served 27 years.

Strong, Scott; teacher/Cherry Hill, served 27 years.

Taylor, Mennell; teacher/Aspen Elementary, served 26 years.

Thomas, Maria; teacher/Forbes Elementary, served 15 years.

Tucker, Elaine; teacher/professional development, served 25.75 years.

Wagner, Susann; TSA/Sharon Elementary, served 30 years.

Westover, Scot; principal/Mt. Mahogany, served 36 years.

Whitaker, Melinda; teacher/Hillcrest, served 24 years.

Wills, Linda; principal/Cedar Valley Elementary, served 36 years.

Wilson, Jeanie; asst. principal/Pleasant Grove High, served 20 years.

Wimmer, Calvin; teacher/Ridgeline Elementary, served 37 years.

Wiser, Analee; teacher/Forbes Elementary, served 26 years.

Woodland, Roland; teacher/American High, served 33 years.

Wright, Doug; teacher/Lehi Jr. High, served 32 years.

Zirbes, Debra; assistant principal/Timpanogos, served 33 years.

Provo School District

Eldridge, Ramona Kaye; teacher/Amelia Earhart Elementary, served 20 years.

Tandy, J. Sue; secretary/Centennial, served 33 years.

Tromley, Lynn; teacher/Centennial, served  28 years.

Weidmann, Lawrence; teacher/Centennial, served 31 years.

Adamson, Gail; food services served, 25 years.

McComb, Jenilee; food services, served 29 years.

Morgan, Ray; administration served, 33 years.

Lowe, Carol; teacher/Franklin.

Holyoak, Debbie; teacher/Lakeview, served 33 years.

Nielsen, Linda; teacher/Lakeview Elementary, served 28 years.

Evans, Jean; special ed/Oak Springs, served 31 years.

Roach, Janet; speech therapy/Oak Springs, served 37 years.

Rutter, Michael; teacher/Provo High, served 33 years.

Theolbald, Nanette; counseling/Provo High, served 12 years.

Abbott, Susan; teacher/Provost Elementary, served 12 years.

Bakke, Maryann; teacher/Provost Elementary, served 39 years.

Chrystler, Susan; teacher/Provost Elementary, served 31 years.

Kuhni, Cynthia; teacher/Provost Elementary, served 21 years.

Lemmon, Ro Ann; teacher/Provost Elementary, served 30 years.

Nielsen, Elise; speech pathology/Provost, served 26 years.

Reinwand, Lane S.; teacher/Provost Elementary, served 29 years.

Willcocks, Loretta; teacher/Provost Elementary, served 31 years.

Barlow-Thompson, Deborah; teacher/Rock Canyon Elementary, served 34 years.

Cowley, Karen; food services/Rock Canyon, served 31 years.

McKinney, Alyce Jane; teacher/Rock Canyon Elementary, served 44 years.

Perides, Pete; custodian/Spring Creek.

Beck, Elaine; teacher/Timpanogos Elementary, served 27 years.

Davis, Collette; career center/Timpview, served 22 years.

Heber, Una; bus driver.

Ford, Cathy; food services/Westridge, served 30 years.

Matthews, Sue; teacher/Westridge Elementary, served 24 years.

Spadafora, Deborah; teacher/Westridge, served 26 years.

Pratt, Dennis; principal/Edgemont Elementary, served 30 years.

Nebo School District

Baguley, Glenn; CTE/Spanish Fork High, served 28 years.

Baguley, Leslie; teacher/Goshen, served 15 years.

Bake, Mark; asst. principal/Diamond Fork Jr., served 30 years.

Barlow, Patricia; teacher/Goshen, served 22 years.

Beesley, Peggy; teacher/Sage Creek, served 22 years.

Bird, Glenn V.;  teacher/Springville High, served 37 years.

Boyack, Michele;  teacher/Spanish Fork High, served 36 years.

Buchanan, Kathryn Lynn; teacher/Orchard Hills, served 24 years.

Burnah, Robin;  teacher/Foothills, served 21 years.

Chatterley, Sharlene; teacher/Art City, served 30 years.

Christensen, Darlene J.; facilitator/Mapleton, served 30 years.

Mary Lois Clayson, teacher/Salem, served 26 years.

Collings, Kathy; teacher/Mt. Nebo Jr. High, served 30 years.

Cook, Jeffrey K.; counselor/Diamond Fork Jr. High, served 28 years.

Crockett, Leanna; teacher/Springville High, served 33 years.

Daniels, Denise; teacher/Spanish Fork High, served 32 years.

Davis, Dixie; teacher/Sage Creek, served 25 years.

Dutson, Catherine W.; facilitator/Art City, served 42 years.

Esquerra, Shirley; teacher/Orchard Hills, served 10 years.

Foote, Joan; teacher/Sage Creek, served 16 years.

Francom, Ruth; teacher/Orchard Hills, served 25 years.

Goddard, Norma; teacher/Taylor, served 13 years.

Griffin, Jim; teacher/Salem Hills High, served 33 years.

Hyton, Paula; teacher/Brookside, served 25 years.

Kelly, Joe; at-risk services/Landmark, served 30 years.

Koyle, Laurel T.; teacher/Brockbank, served 30 years.

Leek, Priscilla; teacher/Springville High, served 30 years.

Moody, Layne; teacher/Salem Hills, served 34 years.

Moses, Susan; teacher/Diamond Fork Jr. High, served 30 years.

Nelson, Paul; teacher/Spanish Fork Jr. High, served 29 years.

Peay, Ann; librarian/Mapleton Jr. High, served 21 years.

Powell, Martin E.; CTE/Mapleton Jr. High, served 36 years.

Roach, RuthAnn; teacher/Brookside, served 36 years.

Simonson, Ava; resource/Spanish Fork Jr. High, served 26 years.

Sleight, Lori Ann; teacher/Sage Creek, served 24 years.

Smith, Mary A.; psychologist/Santaquin, served 13 years.

Swenson, Sharee; special ed/Foothills, served 25 years.

Tew, Patty; teacher/Rees, served 31 years.

Tischner, Reta; teacher/Salem, served 20 years.

Tolman, Stephen D.; special ed/Cherry Creek, served 35 years.

Tuckett, Roger F.; teacher/Diamond Fork Jr. High, served 28 years.

Warren, Joe; transportation supervisor, served 32.5 years.

Blakey, Beth E.; special ed tech/Salem Hills, served 27 years.

Bowen, Jarleen; resource tech/Diamond Fork Jr. High, served 20 years.

Crane, Ronda; secretary/Art City, served 22 years.

Hutton, Andrea; food service/Salem Jr. High, served 9 years.

Mason, Carol; food service/Spanish Fork Jr. High, served 16 years.

Nay, Marjorie; special ed/Salem, served 9 years.

Rasmussen, Marsha; media tech/Sage Creek, served 22 years.

Rose, Linda C.; food service/secretary, served 23 years.

Solen, Gerald L.; lead electronics/tech., served 15 years.

Taylor, Vickie; bus driver, served 23 years.

Daily Herald reporter Karen Hoag may be reached at (801) 344-2540 or