The Mitchell School District saluted a pair of retiring employees on Wednesday, both known for dedication in their fields of expertise and dedication to seeing their students succeed.
Ron Parks, who has taught math at Mitchell Middle School for 12 years, and Dave Reuland, who has been an automotive technology instructor for the last 17 years at Mitchell High School, were both honored during the MHS and MMS Employee Recognition event at the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy Commons.
Parks has taught eighth-grade math for the last 12 years at MMS. His colleague Paula Bures noted he's had an interesting career path - his other occupations include being a minister and a restaurateur - before returning to teaching. His instructional career began in Plankinton in 1965, in which he made $4,600, while helping coach three sports.
A 1964 graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University, Parks played for the Tigers and also coached the Tigers' football team for six seasons. Parks also been on the coaching staffs for football and track and field for the Kernels in recent seasons.
"Whether he was teaching or doing other things, you notice that the common thread is that he was a servant," Bures said of Parks. "He has a servant's heart and it's very, very obvious."
Reuland, who has worked for MHS since 2002, grew up in White Lake and graduated from Mitchell Area Vocational Technical School (now Mitchell Technical Institute). He worked for various area automotive repair and manufacturing jobs before taking a role as an instructor for the South Dakota State Training School in Plankinton. In addition to his career in teaching automotive technology, Reuland has also been an avid drag racer, competing in locations around the region and around the country.
MHS Principal Joe Childs said that Reuland was "a pain in the butt, in a good way," still pestering Childs about new equipment and growing his programs even in his final year of teaching.
"Your students bought into your determined, no-quit attitude, and that has been proven by the numerous, unsolicited positive stories about your course and your knowledge," he said.
Reuland's colleagues helped provide a few laughs on Wednesday, as well, putting on an auto racing-themed skit, and having a mock pit stop with suggestions of gifts Reuland might need in retirement, such as racing goggles that replicated new glasses, and milk of magnesia instead of an oil change.
The remaining honorees Wednesday had a combined service time to the Mitchell School District of 320 years, Childs said. They included:
• 40 years of service: Terry Aslesen, MHS.
• 35 years of service: Maurice Zoss, MMS.
• 30 years of service: Steve Morgan, MHS.
• 25 years of service: Keith Christensen, MMS, Becky Larson, MMS; Lisa Neugebauer, MHS, Tricia Neugebauer, MHS, Marica Shannon, MHS, Curtis Smith, MHS.
• 20 years of service: Suzanne Skinner, MMS/MHS.
• 15 years of service: Luke Norden, MMS, Roxanne Zimmer, MMS; Darrel Anderson, MHS.