Chippewa Valley board remembers student who died

Teacher of the year, retirees also honored

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 29, 2012

 Pam Gold, a second-grade teacher from Ojibwa Elementary, receives the Chippewa Valley School District Elementary Teacher of the Year Award as her principal, John Rose, center, observes. Superintendent Ronald Roberts called Gold the “idea lady” for her ability to quickly formulate lesson plans.

Pam Gold, a second-grade teacher from Ojibwa Elementary, receives the Chippewa Valley School District Elementary Teacher of the Year Award as her principal, John Rose, center, observes. Superintendent Ronald Roberts called Gold the “idea lady” for her ability to quickly formulate lesson plans.

Photo by Robert Guttersohn

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The Chippewa Valley boardroom was filled with laughter and tear-inducing memories during the Board of Education’s May 21 meeting.

The board recognized eight retirees from the district, honored its elementary teacher of the year and paid a moment of silence to one of its students who died after a two-year battle with brain cancer.

Cassie Kennedy, 15, and a Chippewa Valley High School student, died May 15 — just days away from her 16th birthday.

Superintendent Ronald Roberts attended Kennedy’s funeral hours before the board meeting.

“You think of the things sometimes we quarrel over,” Roberts said. “And then you go to something like this, and you really see what’s important.”

The district also named Pam Gold, second-grade teacher at Ojibwa Elementary, the elementary teacher of the year.

Her co-workers, Roberts said, call her the “ideal lady” for her ability to create quality lessons and projects quickly.

“She willingly gives up time before, during and after school to support students, colleagues and school activities,” said Roberts. “She’s a tireless worker.”

John Rose, Gold’s principal, said she can easily deal with challenging parents by turning a potential argument into a productive conversation with them.

“Pam is one of those teachers that you wish every one of your teachers was like, because no matter what kind of a situation we have, you can always go to Pam to get that help,” Rose said.

My family has “had to have a lot of patience with me through all these years because we do work a lot,” Gold said.

Also at the meeting, the board honored two retiring principals and six retiring teachers.

Scott Burns, the Huron Elementary principal, has been part of the district for 36 years and served under six different superintendents.

“I’d like to thank most of them,” Burns joked while speaking to the board. “We’ve had our ups and downs, we’ve had our rough times, but ultimately I think this is a district that anybody is proud to be part of and proud to work for because we’ve done great things.”

Tom Heethuis, retiring principal of Dakota High School and part of the district for 31 years, reminisced on how Chippewa Valley changed from a rural district to a suburban district during his career.

“Nineteen Mile was an unpaved washboard, and if anybody’s wife was overdue, you just take her up and down 19 Mile and speed up the delivery, I think,” Heethuis joked. “That’s the way Chippewa Valley district was. There was not much north of 17 Mile.”

Those with whom he worked hold Heethius in high regard, both professionally and personally.

“Educator is an understatement,” said Ed Skiba, the district’s executive director of secondary education, of Heethuis. “But to say he is a great friend is a privilege.”