New Richmond Elementary School lost 66 years of teaching experience when Bonnie Faubion and Jan Gemma hugged their students for the last time May 27 and walked out of their classrooms.
Faubion retired after 36 years with New Richmond schools and Gemma after 30 years in the district. Both spent much of their careers teaching kindergarten.
“The last day was hard,” said Gemma. “It was hard because the children are very special to me and I was giving them hugs and it was very difficult.”
"I'm hoping for some grandchildren and I want to be there for them and by two children are spread out and I want to be able to visit them," said Gemma for her reason for retiring.
"I'm not going to tell you that," said Faubion when asked her age when she started teaching. "I didn't start to college until my son was in kindergarten. A friend invited me to go to school with her so I started and took one class and then two and then three and kept on going."
Faubion taught for 36 years, one year at Monroe Elementary and 35 at New Richmond Elementary. She was a fixture in the elementary during her tenure, rarely missing a day. Not even an attack by a pit bull kept her out of her classroom the last two weeks of the school year.
The dog attacked her outside her home and bit her on the upper arm. Thinking fast, she noticed the dog had both a collar and a choker and grabbed the choker to hold off the dog.
"I was lucky enough to have my cell phone, so I held the choker with one hand and dialed 911 with my other hand," said Faubion. "A deputy sheriff finally came and called the animal shelter and they were going to euthanize it (May 27)."
"Mrs. Faubion will be sorely missed at NRE. Her knowledge base and teaching skills were a definite asset to our students," said Combs. "It was a pleasure to be able to work both of our retiring teachers at New Richmond Elementary."
Faubion saved her toughness for stray dogs. In the classroom, she was a loving, caring teacher who passed out her share of hugs during her 36 years.
"In my early years I may have carried a student or two to the office," she said. "I love teaching, but I started having health problems this year and started missing days and one day I just came to the conclusion, 'It's time to go.'"
The two retiring teachers were honored at a reception at the school. Among those attending were
Todd Wells, assistant principal at the Genesis School in Williamsburg, and his daughter, Mady.
"My very first year teaching I had Todd in 5th grade at Monroe, and my last year I had Mady, his daughter, in kindergarten," said Gemma.
"Mrs. Gemma was a special teacher to me and was a special teacher to my daughter," said Wells.