Saying goodbye is the hardest part.

Ridgefield schools will have to do just that at the end of the month, when 15 staff members — with a combined 309 years and five months experience — are set to retire.

The recent retirees were recognized in a brief ceremony at the beginning of a Board of Education meeting Monday night.

Paul Hendrickson was the first honoree of the night. Hendrickson is retiring with eight years and eight months of work for Ridgefield Public Schools.

Hendrickson seemed to be exploring the retiree wardrobe Monday night, donning a pink shirt and blue V-neck sweater. This stood out in stark contrast to his familiar grey suit that he wore to Board of Education meetings in the past.

“I personally enjoyed working with Paul, we shared a lot of laughs,” said Acting Superintendent Dr. Robert Miller.

Hendrickson closed with a question posed by late night host Conan O’Brien.

“What do you call a happy person on Monday?” he asked, “Retired.”  

Ridgefield High School

This year's list of retirees feature nine staff members with over 20 years of experience, including: RHS science teacher Peter Nichols, RHS mathematics teacher Barbara Bovin, ERMS music teacher Sally Brunner, FES fifth grade teacher Michael Chugg, RES nurse Linda Miller, SES fifth grade teacher Pamela Lavender, SRMS secretary Sandra Rae, and two SRMS guidance counselors Lisa Rodden and Mary Wyton.

“While Pete taught earth science and biology, his passions also lie in environmental sustainability, philanthropy, and all things outdoors.” Principal Stacy Gross said with Nichols standing next to her.

Nichols taught for 35 years in the science depart of RHS while also spearheading environmental movements at the high school.

“We will miss having our resident gardner,” Gross said.

Bovin, another Ridgefield High School teacher leaving with more than 30 years of experience, is a mathematics teacher.

“She is also someone who inspires her colleagues to find challenging problems to further enhance students’ growth,” Gross said in reflection of Bovins’ 32-year career at RHS.

RHS will also be losing library media specialist Kerry Baldwin, who has been there for 12-plus years, as well as Loren Euvrard. Euvrard has been teaching social studies for 18 years.

Middle schools

East Ridge Middle School will be losing three teachers this year with a combined 49 years of experience.

Brunner, a music teacher who inspired young students to chase their dreams of music, will retire after 26 years. She will retire along with English teachers Mindi Rappoport and Noreen Swanson.

Three front office members will be retiring this year from Scotts Ridge Middle School, with 68 years of experience.

“She has been a right hand of mine for the past nine years and I’m going to miss her greatly,” said SRMS Principal Tim Salem about Wyton. He presented the book that will take up residency in the SRMS library in her honor — “Love What Matters: Real People. Real Stories. Real Heart.”

Scotts Ridge secretary Sandra Rae, 22 years, will also be leaving. Accompanied by counselor Lisa Rodden, 21 years.

Elementary schools

The elementary schools will lose three teachers and a nurse with a total of 69 years of experience and expertise.

Scotland Elementary School will be losing Lavender, a fifth grade teacher, and Partelow, a fourth grade teacher. They will be leaving with a combined 24 years.

Chugg is retiring after 20 years of teaching the fifth grade at Farmingville.  

Miller, the Ridgebury elementary nurse, is retiring after 25 years (see related story). Ridgebury Principal Jamie Palladino praised Miller’s professionalism and expertise.

“Linda is the type of nurse you want your kids to go to,” said Palladino on Miller’s 25 years at the school.

Editor's note: Elizabeth O'Hara an art teacher at Branchville is also retiring this year. The schools did not note this in their original announcement.