The quintessential small school educator is calling it quits in a profession that has stretched out 38 years. Two other valued Beach school employees are leaving at the end of the school year as well.
Beach Elementary School teacher Cathy Trent is officially retiring at the end of the school year. She witnessed her final fifth grade graduation ceremony in her seven years Monday evening.
Marilyn and Joe Zadlo will be moving to the Orlando area. They have been reliable part-time, fill-ins during their nearly 15 years at Beach school.
Cathy Trent poses with her fourth grade class. The likable teacher is set to retire at school's end.
All three education specialists will be missed. All three are departing due to family reasons. School officials will be holding a celebratory party in their honor at an undisclosed Beach restaurant on Thursday.
"(Cathy Trent) has boundless energy," said Beach Elementary Principal Larry Wood. "That energy does a lot of things for us. It will be difficult to find someone or some people to take on those tasks that she usually performs.
"Marilyn and Joe Zadlo have been valuable members of the Beach school community for many years. They have touched all of our lives in many ways, and were always ready to help us at a moment's notice. We wish them the best as they move to the Orlando area to spend more time with their family."
Fifth Grade Graduates
Madison Kennedy Alward
Manuela Castro Velez
KC Allen Chandler
Sasha Helen-Grac Davin
Willow Bird Heim
Richard Alexander Hilpert
Cheyanne Rose Martin
Dakota James Martin
Erin Drake Mathes
Bryanna Marie Maurer
Alianna Rome Reimann
Kayla M Sandell
Luke Thomas Taulbee
Victoria Grace Weeg
Trevor John Zamniak
All Trent has done is teach fourth grade for many of her years at Beach school (she began in February 2007 as a curriculum text specialist), acted as Parent Teacher Organization president, K-Kids (Kiwanis) supervisor, Book Battle coordinator, Lee County School District Language Arts Committee Representative, while being a key member of Reading text book selection committees.
"She's such a dedicated, hard-working person," said Beach Elementary's Kathy Brindise. "She's always stepping up to do the extra things. She sets high expectations for everybody."
The Zadlos have been very well liked and valued. Marilyn was a para-professional (teacher's aide) during her Beach school stint, and husband Joe was a "super-sub" substitute teacher for the same amount of time here.
"(Marilyn) is our salvation; she is fabulous," said Trent. "She works very hard with these children. She will be missed."
"Joe is our sub-extraordinaire," added Trent. "He is our go-to guy. He knows what to do and has no discipline problems when he teaches."
Trent, a long-time Beach resident, stated the reason for retirement is to spend time with her expected grandchild in the fall. Instead of focusing her attention on a classroom of students, she will be giving one-on-one tutorials.
"My son and daughter-in-law are having a baby in September," she said. "I am going to be the granny nanny."
Trent, who received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Education from Columbus (Ga.) College, came to Beach school from Suncoast Academy (now called North Fort Myers Academy). She taught in Georgia, married a military man and moved to Germany where she taught there as well. Then she taught in Brandon (Fla.) before moving to Southwest Florida.
Of the "extra credit" activities she is currently involved in, Trent says she enjoys Book Battle the most. She has been asked to take over the Book Battle program at Bonita Elementary School beginning next year. (Her significant other is the principal there.)
"You get to see the kids' love of books," she said. "It's amazing to see students stay in it for three years."
Trent says there are way too many events to list as her favorites, but reminisced about an Easter event during her first year and the Beach Elementary 500 just a couple of weeks ago.
"The things that stick out are the everyday classroom sessions with my kids," she said. "I never wanted to be the boss. I just wanted to be with kids. You teach because you touch a child. I tell my kids that once you walk into my room, you are mine until you die."
Trent is leery about the teaching profession for younger adults looking to get started.
"It's a wonderful profession, but I don't think we are treated as professionals," she said. "I really feel for our young adults going into the teacher profession, because it's scary."
The Zadlos vacationed on the Beach before moving to the island full time prior to their employment at Beach school.
"We decided when we were ready to retire -which we didn't- we would come down here because we enjoyed it," said Marilyn, who has enjoyed the close bonds within the small school. "Something that affects one of us, affects all of us."
Back in Illinois, Marilyn assisted teachers at the high school level, specifically remedial Reading. She entered the profession later in life. Joe was an Industrial Arts teacher at the middle school level for 33 years and has taught overall for 48 years.
"I am going to miss the kids and the people. This staff is like family," said Joe. "It's a small school, and hopefully it will always stay like that. Everyone has been really good to us, and the kids are wonderful."
"I am going to miss it here, but it's bittersweet," added Marilyn. "Three of my grandchildren are up in Orlando. My daughter has a high-profiled job, and she wants us to be closer to her and the grandkids."
Joe remembers a cancer run the school put on. Marilyn was battling breast cancer at the time.
"They ran as Team Zadlo," he said. "That was very memorable."
Principal Wood stated filling any open position will not be known until the new school year arrives. Student enrollment plays a large factor in determining the number of teachers needed.
"We won't know until the fall how many teachers we'll end up with," he said. "If our numbers spike and we need to hire a teacher, I may change some of the grade levels. At this point, it is really premature."
Teaching at Beach Elementary with a small island atmosphere is a great experience, says Trent.
"To see these kids since kindergarten, and see their little personalities grow, this environment is wonderful for that," she said. "It's a wonderful community, and the kids that this community puts out are wonderful. People really care about the kids in this community. And, so do I."
Last day of school is next Wednesday (May 28) and includes a field day/carnival after an early dismissal.