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Denair Unified bids fond farewell to retiring teachers
denair retirees
Honored teachers pose with the Board of Trustees at the Denair Unified school board meeting this month. From left to right: Board member Kathi Dunham-Filson, student Board member Katelynn Lawson, Board member JohnPlett, retiree Becky Julien, Board member Sandi Dirkse, Board member Carolyn Brown, Board member Robert Hodges, retiree Chris Hawkins and Superintendent Aaron Rosander. Not pictured: retiree Gerald Savelson. - photo by Photo Contributed

Three long-time teachers at the Denair Unified School District will be retiring after collectively serving more than 75 years in the District.

Becky Julien, Christopher Hawkins and Jerry Savelson have witnessed DUSD change and grow over the years, but the one constant has been their support of the students. While the faces behind the desks came and went, their devotion to student success remained the same.

Julien began working in DUSD in 1979, where she spent most of her time teaching at the elementary level and eventually served as the Pathways teacher and coordinator at Denair Academic Avenues, the full time classroom-based charter school. Helping to shape the Pathways program, which allows students to explore various electives, Julien was instrumental in bringing the fine arts to Denair students. Her motto is to ‘enjoy life’ and according to former fellow teacher and current Principal Carol Hammond, Julien brought this positive attitude to the classroom each day.

“She is always learning, always inspirational. She is known for teaching the whole child,” said Hammond.

Hawkins boasts of similar accomplishments as a teacher who began teaching in DUSD the same year as Julien. For the past 35 years he has taught third, fifth and sixth grade students, as well as those on independent study at Denair Charter Academy. Commonly seen as the referee for the staff versus fifth grade basketball games, Hawkins also contributed to the District by leading various extracurricular activities including chess club, gardening club and video production after school and during lunch.

“His humorous nature could always be counted on to keep our students laughing during special events,” said Fawn Oliver, director of Student Support Services.

As a former Turlock High School teacher and Linden High School assistant principal Savelson came to Denair Unified in 2002 to preside over Denair High School as principal. After seven years, Savelson desired to return to the classroom to teach independent study at the Denair Charter Academy, something for which Principal Michelle Bush has been very grateful.

“He attacks everything with integrity and professionalism.  He is a top-notch mentor to a lot of these young men in particular,” said Bush. “I taught next to him. You just learn from him. He was very much a role model for other teachers.”

As Julien, Hawkins and Savelson prepare to enjoy time outside of the classroom, they now have one token gift from Denair Unified by which to remember their time: a crystal clock. Each professional received the gift at the May school board meeting to symbolize “ the irreplaceable time spent in education over the past many years and the well-deserved and wondrous time that lies ahead in retirement,” said superintendent Aaron Rosander.