Dayton Independent School District will not be the same without some longtime staff members. In fact, collectively, 130 years of experience between the five DISD folks will be retiring. Dayton ISD Superintendent Dr. Jessica Johnson stated, “We will certainly miss each one of these amazing staff members. Each has contributed to our district for many years and have made a positive impact upon our children and district. We thank them for their years of service, for the wonderful memories and for their loyalty to Dayton ISD!”
The first retiree is Mrs. Crystal Votaw who has worked tirelessly in DISD for over 28 years. Votaw worked at a Daycare during her husband’s time in the service and loved working with children. She started out as a substitute teacher for WJH. “The Jr. High principal was Oran Hamilton and I loved working for him. In fact, he hired me to be his secretary and PEIMS Coordinator. I worked with some special people and have such special memories.” When asked about her best memory, Crystal quickly recognized another one of the retirees Bea Garza. “I moved from WJH to the high school and not knowing many of the staff there, Bea Garza, who worked at DHS, asked me if I wanted to eat lunch with her. We have become close friends throughout the years.” Votaw looks forward to spending more time with her family along with having more time for her quilting and sewing hobbies. She will be greatly missed in her role of District PEIMS & Account Specialist.
Speaking of retiree Bea Garza, the District Truancy Clerk has made a huge impact upon our district and our community. Garza works with the City court system, law enforcement along with all campuses and parents. “I began my amazing journey in education at DISD in Sept. 1997. I had so many teachers that influenced me, but Barbara Odom and Chandra Smith influenced me the most and encouraged me to work with children. I have enjoyed my 25 years working with DISD children and with the staff.” It was the impact upon students she had over the years that will always resonate with Garza. One story that she tells is about a certain ESL student that she was working with that needed eye surgery. She was able to work with the Lions Club and he was able to get his surgery paid for. “I often see my former student. He always hugs me and has told his own children that if it had not been for me helping him with his surgery that he would not be able to see today.” In fact, this student named his own daughter after Mrs. Garza. She will be moving to the Rio Grande Valley to be closer to family. Bea looks forward to spending more time with her grandkids and working with her hobbies such as cross-stitching and quilting along with going on some trips with her best friends.
The next retiree that is leaving the district in December is Mrs. Karen Landry. She will be leaving a void in the personnel department. Mrs. Landry has been working in education for 27 years. She decided to work in the education field so she could be close to her own children, while they were attending school. Her greatest memory is watching her children and their friends as they participated in different activities during and after school, throughout their school years. “I have lots of wonderful memories working in education. My daughter was in first grade and I was working downtown Houston. Getting into the school district was my way of spending more time with my children and getting to know the families of my children’s friends.” Landry has also enjoyed making many friends along the way. She plans on traveling and enjoying the outdoors after retiring. Karen and her husband will be moving to Temple,Texas in order to be closer to their children. Congratulations to Karen Landry on her next chapter in life.
Director of Business Services, Melissa VanDeventer will be sorely missed in the district’s business and grant department. Mrs. VanDeventer started with Dayton ISD after doing audits for different school districts. She was brought on to Dayton ISD by Mrs.Tami Pierce, Associate Superintendent of Business Services. VanDeventer has worked closely with Pierce for the last 22 years. Mrs. VanDeventer said she was inspired to work in the education field by her parents. Both her mother and father were educators. When asked about her best memory Melissa said, “I have enjoyed working everyday and coming to work. Throughout my 22 years in the district, I have made lifelong friends and working with them on a daily basis has been a blessing.” Upon retirement Melissa plans on traveling and spending time with her grandchildren.
Athletic Director and Coach Jeff Nations also will be retiring at the end of December. Coach Nations began coaching and teaching in Dayton in 1994 after graduating from Sam Houston State. He has been teaching for 28 years with 27 of them being in Dayton. Coach Nations said that the ‘special’ teacher that influenced him to work with children was Coach Brady Pennington. He was my Physical Science teacher, coach and FCA leader. From 1985 until today Coach Nations says he can call Coach Pennington for advice about anything and he knows he will give him an honest answer. Coach Nations says, “I have so many great memories in Dayton. From beating Jasper in 1996 and starting Dayton’s incredible run of 20 consecutive years in the playoffs, 2002 going 12-1 as his first year as offensive coordinator, 2007 state semi finals and the 2008 state championship game. It was amazing to see the incredible support and the sea of purple that was in the stands and on the River Walk in San Antonio at the state championship.” His greatest memories are the relationships he has with former players, students and their families. Upon retirement with the district, Coach Nations plans on going to work in another direction- selling commercial real estate and spending more time with his family.
There will be a Come and Go Reception held on Dec. 6 at the Support Service Center at 702 S. Cleveland St. from 3-5 p.m. Family and friends are invited to come and congratulate these retirees