A-W principal ready for new chapter
By Beverly Van Buskirk
AKRON — Retirement will become Cathy Bobier’s new normal with the school year ended at Akron-Westfield Community School.
Bobier has served as the elementary principal for 13 years, and decided after 37 years in education, it’s time to retire.
“My husband, Craig has been retired for three years,” she said, “And we have grandkids, so it will be nice to be able to see them as they all live a ways away.”
Her decision to be a teacher was shaped by her family.
“I come from a family of both teachers and nurses, and I enjoyed the area of science, and so that’s where it went,” she said.
After graduating from Westfield High School, she attended Wayne State College and obtained her teaching degree. She did graduate work through the University of Northern Iowa.
Living at rural Westfield, Bobier spent time in several districts.
“I went every direction except South Dakota, same base pretty much, though we did live at South Sioux for a while,” she said.
Her teaching took her to Anthon-Oto Middle School/High School, as a science teacher and driver’s ed instructor; South Sioux City, Nebraska, as a junior high 8th grade science teacher; West Sioux Community Schools in Hawarden where she taught middle school science; and then 11 years at Le Mars Community Schools teaching middle school science and then high school biology.
Her final change was coming to A-W as the elementary principal.
“I’m one of those, and really anybody in education is a lifelong learner. I just continued on. There are always new things to learn,” she said.
In her career, Bobier said there are so many memories and good times, it’s hard to pick just a few.
“I enjoy working with all the students and being able to see them grow academically and more as a teacher, and as a principal, seeing them grow socially, emotionally and maturing, and each year growing so much in all areas of their lives,” she said.
One of her fun experiences occurred at this year’s pre-school graduation.
“We had a pre-schooler say to someone as they were coming through the door, ‘We grow up so fast,’ and they’re only in pre-school,” she said with a smile. “Then I had a student one time as principal that he wrote an apology letter and he put a P.S. at the end that said, ‘Yes, I apologize for anything I’ll do in the future.’ I thought that was really cute.”
“I also enjoy the innocence of our students yet, the trust that they have in us. They have so much trust and belief that we want what’s best for them. So that’s what you want to give in return,” she said.
She also recalled a time when she was able to take three students at West Sioux to a solar power car competition.
“They were three students that were not in their homes, but in an alternative school. So to be able to take them for a day on a trip, that was a fun experience, and just to be with them and compete against kids from other schools that had more advantages,” she said. “There’s probably something every day.”
Bobier offers a few words of advice for those considering going into education.
“It is a difficult profession, so it’s something you have to love and feel the calling for to be successful. It’s not just a job to go into, it has to be something that you believe you can make a difference and you have to understand that you’re going to have to be constantly changing and learning and growing right along with your students. The profession never stays the same,” she said.
Education has changed drastically through her years, she said.
“I think everybody has their niche. You want to be able to find where you are most effective or where your heart is at and if you find a job like that, it doesn’t become a job, it’s a goal for your life to be able to accomplish that,” she said.
There have been many changes in education since she started in the field and she spoke of the biggest changes from when she started to now.
“Student engagement is talked about a lot more, a lot more hands on, a lot more students collaborating together. I think years ago when we first started it was a lot of the teacher talking and the students listening and going from there. So we want more student engagement. I think the social and emotional has changed a great deal from when I first started.” Bobier said. “And then of course, school safety.”
She also thinks that state and federal governments have required schools to do a lot more than they used to do.
“I think they feel because we have students and families in a confined area, they think they can gather information, expect us to do a lot more because we have them in this environment, and sometimes I don’t know if I always agree with what they expect us to do through the school. I don’t know if that’s always what our profession is supposed to be,” she added.
Bobier was quick to say what she will not miss in retirement.
“I will not miss the bus problems, when there are difficulties on the bus. I will not miss parents that disagree with my decisions or with the school decisions. And I would say that’s about it,” she said.
She will miss the interaction with students each day.
“I will miss being with the dedicated staff, our students, and all the support staff, even the bus drivers,” she said.
She will enjoy spending more time with her husband, and family: son, Curt and wife Courtney, Ezra and Everett; son, Cal; and daughter Catie and husband, Josh Binneboese, Leon and Breck.
“I want to thank my husband for his support, and holding down the fort at home and my family. Also thanks to the great staff and our school board and administrative team, a very positive work environment, and our PTA,” she concluded.