Longtime Goshen school staff say farewell
Longtime Goshen County School District Staff Randy Epler will be retiring following 40 years, and filling many positions while working for the district. Donna Bath, GCSD Transportation Supervisor, celebrates over 30 years of working for the school district. Rhett Breedlove/Torrington Telegram
GOSHEN COUNTY – We probably don’t need too heavy of a reminder how much educators mean to us. When we say us, we mean ourselves as individuals, our children, our families, our friends, and perhaps most of all our communities.
This year with the Goshen County School District (GCSD), several long time staff will be saying a friendly farewell to the communities they have served, and sacrificed so much for decades.
Although there is indeed a great handful of administrators, teachers, and staff calling it a career this year, a few graciously sat down with the Telegram recently to discuss a remarkable past, and hopeful future.
Among these GCSD staff was Mr. Randy Epler, the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) Coordinator, who has been working within the district, filling many positions, and educating thousands of children along the way for the past 40 years. When asked about a career that spanned for so long, as well as a bright family and hobby oriented future, Epler concluded that the feelings are indeed bittersweet.
“My entire career has been in Goshen County,” began Epler. “I graduated in 1983, with a degree in Agriculture Education. My first job was 25 years at Southeast as an AG Education teacher and FFA advisor.”
Although Epler was passionate about his teaching position at Southeast, he also believed in embracing growth, as well as new challenges. He would then accept an administration position that would require more leadership in the community and school, as well as a fair amount self-sacrifice.
“I always knew in my teaching career, that I wanted to experience the education administration,” Epler continued. “I was really drawn to education law and finance, which is a big part of education administration. In 2002, I completed my certification in K-12, and it was in 2008 that I accepted a job as Principal at Torrington High School.”
Epler went on to explain it was here his professional knowledge, growth and relationships truly began to expand, and in a very positive way.
“At that first principal job, I worked with some fantastic people, and learned a lot. I had the greatest support from people supporting our work, and had opportunities to return to Southeast as the K-12 Principal. In all, I spent 11 years as the Principal of Torrington High School. Goshen County has been very good to me and my family.”
Along with Epler, GCSD Transportation Supervisor Donna Bath will also be finishing her career in transportation services in June. Bath has been with GCSD since 1992, and will ironically be retiring in the very building she use to work at as a teenager. During that time, the Transportation Office was used for a much different purpose.
“This building use to be the West Drive-In Theatre, where I worked in high school,” Bath laughed. “And here I am, still working in it and retiring as the Transportation Supervisor.”
Bath discussed how transportation service with the school district, as rewarding as it has been, has not been without its challenges. More often than not it keeps her productively busy.
“My job has been to keep the buses on the road whether it’s a route bus, field trips, or activities and always making sure its’s safe and efficient. And it’s getting more difficult, because it’s getting harder and harder to get bus drivers. It’s like that all over the country right now, and we are not immune to it. So it’s become a very big challenge for the transportation department.”
Bath started with the school district as a substitute bus driver in 1992, and as the years progressed, slowly began her path as an indispensable member of the GCSD.
“In 1992, my children were getting old enough to be in school, but I wanted something that would allow me to be home when they were,” Bath said. “So I started off as a bus driver substitute, and within a couple months a route was available, so I became a full time route driver.”
Soon thereafter, the powers-that-be at the time were impressed and confident enough with Bath’s efficient driving, as well as her impeccable safety record, that she was given a leadership role.
“Within five years, the Transportation Supervisor then asked if I would be willing to start training drivers. So I began driving as a third party tester for the school districts, began working with WYDOT and I became the supervisor in the fall of 2010. So I’ve worn all these hats here, including the office secretary.”
With both Epler and Bath stepping into the next chapter of their lives, after dedicated and rewarding careers, both agreed on one thing that they are certainly looking forward to in moving on.
“I’m definitely excited to spend more time with family and grandchildren,” Epler said. “I’m one of those people that has to be active, and I have a few hobbies. As an education teacher and FFA advisor, you work eleven months out of the year. In the 39 years of education, I’ve had only July off. I’m looking forward to an entire summer that’s mine.”
Bath added, “Traveling, seeing a lot of places I didn’t get to see, because my job was demanding. [Seeing] my family, doing a lot of things that my career limited me from doing. You always have a bus doing something. Getting up early at 2:30 in the morning to check roads in the winter, seeing if we could run busses on the roads, checking with the superintendent. I am very grateful for the past 12 years.”
Despite both GCSD staff moving forward to an area in life with lighter responsibility, they again added they are still passionate about their work, which they still take very seriously.
“As I’ve been the supervisor, my goal was to never have a bus accident, where anyone got injured or anything on my watch,” Bath said.
This goal was accomplished during the course of her career, and her tenure as supervisor.
“I couldn’t have done it without everyone else here. I have a great staff, and a great bunch of bus drivers. That’s what has helped me be successful.”
Epler added although the district will be continuing without him, he has high hopes and confidence in them moving forward.
“I think the district is under great leadership, Epler said. “I’m confident of that. I think there’s always room for improvement, and now the district is going to undertake a new goal setting process in the fall. I think that will serve as a road map for district leaderships to continue to build and do great things. One of the measurements of student success is academic, not the only one, but that one’s important. I just hope that the district’s instructional approaches will lead to student achievement and student success. When students achieve something, they achieve confidence in themselves and how they are. That’s important.
Epler concluded with one final notion regarding his career, and his passion for education.
“I do want to maintain some degree of involvement in the educational system whether it be in Laramie County or wherever. Even if it’s substitute teaching, I do have a passion for this work. It’s what I know.”
Epler smiled, and advocated further.
“It’s not easy to leave. It’s like what I always ask people, ‘Are you running to something, or are running away from something?’ I’m running to something.”