After 35 years in education, Gertie Belle Rogers Principal Vicki Harmdierks is ready to move on.

Harmdierks' career and retirement were celebrated Wednesday afternoon during the Mitchell School District's employee recognition event at the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy, as were the milestones of 11 other Mitchell School District educators.

Harmdierks has been an educator for 35 years, teaching in Wessington Springs and Armour before serving as Gertie Belle Rogers' principal for the past 12 years.

She said during her time as principal, she generally spent her free time finding ways to help her staff learn more and get what they needed, but that she's now ready to spend that time on her five grandchildren.

"The last couple of years, my focus has changed, and I find myself reading children's books, grandparent blogs and spending summers with my grandchildren at the pool, just hanging out and having fun," Harmdierks said. "... With a heavy heart, I decided it is time to walk away from team GBR, because they need a leader that is focused."

The event, which was themed around the concept that educators make the world a better place, included a skit in which several Mitchell School District faculty members portrayed Harmdierks, as well as a slideshow of students holding up signs indicating what they appreciated most about their principal.

"As an educator, you have made our world a better place," said Becky Roth, principal of L.B. Williams Elementary, as she presented Harmdierks with a succulent plant surrounded by small stones with Harmdierks' leadership qualities written on them.

While the majority of the event was dedicated to commemorating Harmdierks' contributions to the district, other educators were also celebrated.

Ardis Beck was recognized for 40 years with the district; Steve Culhane for 35 years; Tammy Fuerst, Phyllis Toman and Laurie Kent for 30 years; Kari Pommer for 25 years; Stacie Biggerstaff for 20 years; and Stacey Hofer, April Geist, Meghan Moody and Tressa Wade for 15 years.