EMCSD Celebrates New Retirees and Years of Service Honorees

by R. Dozmati, Contributing Writer, El Monte City School District

After months of waiting, the El Monte City School District was finally able to formally recognize their newest retirees and various staff members for their years of service to the District. Each year, the District, in association with the El Monte Teachers Association would recognize retirees at an end of year dinner. Our employees being recognized for their years of service would also be acknowledged during a January Board of Education meeting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both traditions were put on hold until last week.

“These two celebrations have been long standing traditions within the El Monte City School District,” said Deputy Superintendent of Personnel Services, Steve Sallenbach. “Getting an opportunity to safely gather and celebrate the amazing work our staff has done throughout their careers is always special, and I’m really grateful it was able to happen.”

Last week, the District combined both celebrations into a drive-thru event outside the District Board Room. Celebratory music blared as employees gathered with balloons and signs cheering on their colleagues. “It was a more emotional experience than I thought it would be,” said Kari McMullin, a retiring District TOSA. “I guess you don’t really realize the impact of a 34-year career until you have a moment like that.”

Ms. McMullin dedicated 34 years to EMCSD. She is looking forward to spending retirement with her 6-month-old granddaughter, along with doing some volunteer work and traveling. When asked if she had any tips for her colleagues who are contemplating retirement in the next few years, Ms. McMullin focused on growth and perspective. “I understand that some people are reluctant to leave when their time is up, but I think it’s important to make way for young teachers who will bring fresh ideas and energy to education. Plus, retirement these days doesn’t mean you retire, it just means you can spend many years doing those things you were too busy to do while working. It’s all about balance.”

The District recognized 10 retirees along with 196 employees as part of their Service Pin Ceremony. Pins are awarded to staff for every five years they worked within the District. Combined, the district celebrated over 3000 years of service between our retirees and service pin recipients.  

“This was so much fun!” said Rio Vista Principal, Joella Richenberger, who was celebrating her 20th year in the District. “Some of our staff have dedicated their entire careers to this District, so getting an opportunity to recognize them was great, especially since most of us haven’t seen each other in person for 15 months.” 

The Retirement and Service Pin ceremony was the first major District event since the pandemic started. “Little by little, we’re getting back to some normalcy,” said Mr. Sallenbach. “After a tumultuous year, it’s fitting that our first event was dedicated to commemorating some of the individuals who helped us get through it all.”