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Crestwood Retires Beloved Teachers & Staff

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The end of this school year marks the end of an era for several Crestwood School District staff members and teachers. Ranging from administrators, teachers, and secretaries to custodians, mechanics, and maintenance workers, these retirees have made a positive commitment to the community, contributing a combined 200 years of dedicated service. 

The Primary School bids farewell to Lee Dean, an educator for 35 years, teaching kindergarten for the last 25 years. She has taught throughout the Crestwood District, from Hiram and Shalersville Elementary Schools, to Crestwood Middle School and finally at Crestwood Primary. While at the Primary School, Dean worked to form a science partnership with Hiram College, and was instrumental in the development of the Earth Day event at CPS for the last ten years. She loves the outdoors, and plans to move to Utah and teach skiing to young children during her retirement. “Lee Dean will be greatly missed at Crestwood Primary School by students, staff and parents,” acknowledged Beth Trivelli, Principal at Crestwood Primary School.

Intermediate School Principal Mike Maglionico called retiring CIS teacher Wendy Broman, “A true leader and a master teacher.” Maglionico praised Broman for her wealth of experience prior to teaching which enabled her to offer students a unique perspective of the world around them. Maglionico summed up by saying, “Her love of educating students and her passion for teaching will be missed.”

In addition, Crestwood Middle School says goodbye to three of its ‘family members’, including Don Bennett, who has served for twelve years as the night custodian at CMS. Principal Julie Schmidt shared, “Don is very well-liked, reliable, quiet, but very funny when you get to know him. He would always go above and beyond his duties for concerts, plays, assemblies, and he always does his work with a smile and pleasant demeanor.” Bennett often subs at the Middle School, but when he’s not at school, he enjoys spending time with his family, camping, hunting, fishing, and gardening.

CMS also wishes to thank Sixth Grade Social Studies teacher Jane Kennedy, who has taught at the middle school for 19 years. Kennedy has three sons, all of whom attended Crestwood Schools. As a parent, she was active in sports boosters, working the concessions stands, and helping with honors assemblies. She coordinated the CMS Spelling Bee each year, and was thrilled that Crestwood spellers have won the Portage County Spelling Bee the last four years.  She hopes to spend her retirement time working in her garden and spending time being a grandma.

CMS also congratulates Athletic Director John Vanags on his retirement. Vanags, who started his career at Crestwood as an Industrial Arts teacher, spent 31 years teaching Physical Education. Vanags coached Volleyball for 25 years with 15 first-place seasons and eight second-place seasons. He has also coached football and wrestling at both the high school and middle school level. Principal Schmidt recalls, “John is extremely funny and always made kids and teachers laugh with his sense of humor. He used to jump down from the rafters of the gymnasium onto a trampoline to kick off ‘Anything Goes’, — the eighth grades end-of-the-year program much like the show Fear Factor.” Vanags hopes to continue with his home repair business, hike the Appalachian Trail, mentor young couples, and maybe run a half marathon. He will continue as CMS volleyball coach even though he is retiring from teaching. “These amazing members of the CMS family will be missed by all,” declares Schmidt.

High School Principal Arden Sommers calls retiring custodian Steve Blankenship, “a great guy and a hard worker who can fix anything you need fixed.” Blankenship has served as custodian as the High School for 30 years. He and Joel Rhoads, custodian and self-described ‘afternoon activities director’ at CHS is well-loved for his personality, and his vast collection of Crestwood t-shirts. Rhoads retired after 15 years, but continues to sub when needed. Sommers, credits them both as friends who have “no problem telling me what needs to be done.”

Bill Andexler, Transportation Manager, credits mechanic Charles Leichliter for his excellent skills that have kept the District’s fleet of busses operating safely and efficiently. He also jokes about Leichliter’s uncanny ability to “diagnose problems from multiple bus drivers, even when each one describe the same issue differently”. He also thanked Mike Smith for his 29 years of service in Maintenance and Grounds, and Dale Monreal, who served as Maintenance Supervisor for eleven years, for their dedication to the District, the students, and the community they served so well.

Lastly, Superintendant Joe Iacano will soon retire, completing his 35th year in education. Iacano began his career as a social studies teacher in North Ridgeville. He came to Crestwood Schools as the Assistant Principal at the High School, where he spent three years mentoring young students. Eventually, fate brought him back to Crestwood, this time as the District’s Superintendent. “In his 10 years at Crestwood Schools, Joe has accomplished a great deal for our District,” beamed Crestwood School Board member and long-time friend, Martha Phillips. Some career highlights include improved performance on the State Report Card, increased security district-wide, and backing the cause of free all-day, everyday kindergarten at Crestwood. In addition, Iacano has promoted school levy campaigns throughout his career at Crestwood. This fall, Iacano’s work, combined with that of the community, finally paid off, as an emergency levy passed in the District for the first time in 20 years. According to Iacano, “I am truly thankful to area voters who stepped up to pass November’s levy to generate local dollars to fill the gap created by state funding cuts. Good people make good things happen!”

Thanks to all these dedicated, good people, both in their retirements and in their future endeavors.

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