Otter Valley losing three longtime teachers

BRANDON — After a collective 78 years at Otter Valley Union High School, three teachers have announced their retirements at the end of this school year.
Bruce Douglas, who has taught science at the school for 32 years, Christine Brown, a math and science teacher at the middle school for 29 years, and Doug Werner, a career services teacher for 17 years, will all be saying their final farewells to the school when it closes its doors for the summer.
Though Douglas is retiring after more than three decades at OVUHS, he has been teaching in the Vermont public school system for 43 years. Before coming to Brandon, he worked in Richford and Lamoille classrooms. He has always taught ninth-grade science, but has also taught chemistry and AP biology for some time now. Douglas will be 65 this month, and he decided to opt for the buyout retirement package that the school was offering to longtime teachers.
Though he’ll miss the teaching life, Douglas said he is planning to fill his time in other ways — traveling, for one. He also plans to find another source of income to supplement his retirement benefits.
“I have a tentative trip to Nicaragua planned for this summer,” he said. “And there are eight states I’ve never visited.”
Brown, who teaches middle school math and some science, had not seriously considered retirement as an option until midway through this school year. But when the school offered the buyout in November, she decided that it was the right time.
“It was a spur-of-the-moment decision,” Brown said.
She made the choice, in part, so that she could spend more time with her husband, children and three young grandchildren. And at the end of the summer, she and her husband plan to head south, to Florida, where they lived for several years before moving to Vermont.
“It feels like it’s time to go back,” Brown said.
She said she is looking at positions as an eighth-grade math teacher in Florida, though she hasn’t applied for anything yet. For now, Brown will be enjoying her summer off.
“This might be my opportunity to start a new journey,” she said.
The school doesn’t not plan to fully replace the three teachers. Instead, the administration will be reassigning other members of the staff to perform Douglas’ and Werner’s duties, and in Brown’s place will hire a math intervention specialist in order to improve the school’s test scores.
After their long years of service, OVUHS Principal Dana Cole-Levesque said that the outgoing teachers would be missed.
“They are valued members of the community,” he said. “They are appreciated for their commitment to kids, and have done a remarkable job in helping kids to be successful, whether it is in math, science or career services.”
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at andreas@addisonindependent.com.

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