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By Tara Cavanaugh
Three longtime Ann Arbor Public Schools educators celebrated their collective 87 years of service with friends, family and students at a reception Wednesday night at Lawton Elementary.
Music teacher Dr. Gloria Dunn, school psychologist Dr. Marilyn Higgins and fifth grade teacher Gayle Richardson were also honored by a visit from state Senator Rebekah Warren.
Warren presented the women with a framed certificate of recognition for their contributions to public education. The certificate was signed by Warren, state House Reps. Jeff Irwin and Mark Ouimet, and Governor Rick Snyder.
“Public education is still the great equalizer,” Warren said. “It doesn’t matter whether your parents spoke English as a first language at home, whether they had college degrees, whether they had a lot of money. You’re supposed to be able to come to a great school like Lawton Elementary, have a great teacher, have a great counselor, have great arts education and music education and be the next president of the United States. That starts with an investment in public education.”
Dunn, Higgins and Richardson were also honored with a retirement plaque from the Lawton PTO and a plaque of appreciation signed by Lawton principal Amy McCusker and Superintendent Dr. Patricia Green.
“We’re so appreciative of all the services you provided and the wonderful stories,” McCusker said. “We hope you will come back and visit us.”
Parent Kathryn Schmid attended the event to honor each retiree. “I’m also an educator, and I feel saying thank you is really, really important,” she said. Schmid teaches in Dexter’s middle and high schools, but her son attends Lawton. He’s been a student in Dunn’s music class and in Richardson’s fifth grade. Higgins helped with his individualized education plan this year.
The retiring educators had plans to take vacations, work on service projects and spend time reconnecting with friends and family.
Richardson will take a trip to the Grand Canyon and finish mapping out her family’s genealogy. “I don’t have any big plans, just relax and enjoy things and see some people I haven’t seen in so long,” she said.
Richardson looked around the cafeteria filled with people, many who gave her huge bear hugs, and a big smile came across her face. “I really have enjoyed every minute,” she said. “I’m also glad to move on to other things.”