End of school year bittersweet for two Triton Elementary staff members
When the buses pull away from Triton Elementary School on the last day of classes next month, it will be a bittersweet day for Julie Bowman and Cindy Lutterman.
The two women, who have worked for the school for 36 and 28 years respectively, will be retiring at the end of the year.
They both started their careers in the Dodge Center school district, before Dodge Center consolidated with Claremont and West Concord to form the Triton district. And for much of that time they have worked together.
They both started in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE). Bowman said she was a library assistant for a while and Lutterman worked as a para for seven years. For 14 years they were the office team at Triton Elementary. This year, Lutterman has continued to work in the elementary office while Bowman has been an education assistant.
“We love it,” both agreed about their years in the district.
“In working here it feels more like family,” Luttermanj said. “People really care about students, each other.”
“It’s our second family,” Bowman said. “That’s probably the hardest part (of leaving),” Bowman said.
Over the years one goes through a lot of life changes, Lutterman said, and through it all her co-workers helped her through them.
Both women see the size of the Triton schools as a positive.
“I think because of the size of our school you get to know the families,” Lutterman said.
Because they have worked in the district for so many years, Bowman added, they may know when a child needs extra attention.
Life can be a battle for everyone, Bowman added, and you try to help the youngsters feel loved accepted, cared for and nourished.
Both women said they have seen kids come into the school at 7 a.m. because they had no where else to go when both parents worked. And they have had parents call them and home at early hours to ask what they should do.
When you help them “you know you did okay,” they agreed.
Bowman is a lifelong Dodge Center resident. Her three children and now her grandchildren have all attended school in Dodge Center.
“She is an original Dodger,” Lutterman said.
Lutterman is from Jackson, Minn., she said, but her late husband, Joe, was from Dodge Center. Her three children all went to school in Dodge Center and four of her five grandchildren attend Triton. The fifth, she pointed out, is not yet old enough for school.
This connection to the community can be an advantage as now they are seeing the third generation of students in the school.
The two have worked side-by-side for many years and they said they had always agreed they would retire at 62. “But we didn’t think it would be so soon,” they said.
With retirement approaching they have both thought a bit about what they will do with their time, in addition to spending time with their grandchildren, of course.
Lutterman said she plans to learn how to hula hoop. She has already bought the hoop, she said, and wants to show that “grandma can hula hoop.”
Bowman said that one thing she wants to do is to learn how to make dandelion lotion like her sister does.
“It’s been an awesome adventure,” Bowman said. Lutterman said the reality of retirement hasn’t really registered yet with both agreeing that next fall will be when it really hits as the kids head back to school.