As all of us know, Mrs. Gonder is retiring. With today being her last day, Mr. Sargeant announced that this day, January 30th, will, from now on, be known as Gonder Day.
Mrs. Gonder, who announced her retirement at the beginning of this week, has been a part of Cary-Grove for all of 38 years. 37 of those years being spent in the front office, and the final in Student Services.
“It was getting to be that time. I’ve been here almost 38 years; I’ve spent quite a bit of my life here”, says Mrs. Gonder about her retirement. “My husband is retired- he has been retired and he said ‘don’t you think it’s time? We’re both not getting any younger’”, she said with a laugh.
Family played a major role in shaping her decision says Mrs. Gonder, “[my husband and I] wanted to be there for our family. It’s more about family, even though you all are my family, too”. There is no doubt that Mrs. Gonder was something that made CG feel a little less than a school but more like, well, a family. She truly made everyone feel welcome and loved, but we are not the only ones who will be missing. She says that she will miss “the students, of course, and their families. I’ve known a lot of them”, says Mrs. Gonder, “I’ve known the families, even before the students have been here, students parents, and maybe even students grandparents, so I’m going to miss that a lot and all the interaction”.
It’s no secret that Mrs. Gonder is well loved by everyone at Cary-Grove, but we love her no more than she loves us back. “This is just a special school. Even my husband, who has subbed for a long time, and other subs and other people have said it. We are our own. We are a community, and you hear that all the time, but it’s true. For me, over the years it’s all about keeping it [that way], because we were the little school over there that nobody paid attention to, and we were kind of glad, because we had our own personality. I think that we’ve kept that and all of us have worked hard”, Mrs. Gonder says, looking back on her years here at CG. “When you come here to work you know that that’s going to be one of your missions, to keep it so there’s a sense of community- a family sense. That’s another thing that I will miss because I really feel like I’ve been so lucky to have a big part of that. I’m not a teacher, but I kind of felt like that maybe was my mission”.
A woman whose mission is was to have us all feel comfortable. No, she wasn’t an official teacher, but Mrs. Gonder taught us just as much, if not more, than any other faculty member in the building.
Thinking of some of her favorite memories, Mrs. Gonder looked back on “a lot of great experiences. My own children went to school here, and one granddaughter, so I’m going back a long way. I really would have trouble picking one [favorite memory], but I’ve enjoyed many wonderful memories of the music department and how its come so far. Each year I have a special memory. Every year there are new memories. Some of them go back to things like the bus accident that drew us really, really so close and protective and all of that. But, a fun memory was when we went down state for football and volleyball, and every musical performance, and, just in general, every experience I’ve had with students has been memorable and all of the people that I’ve met.”
As for her actual retirement, Mrs. Gonder says that she’s excited for “the first day and not having to wake up at 5:30- but I will. And I’ll say ‘okay…’ and then I might say ‘oh, I don’t have to get up! I’m going to go back to sleep’. Everybody tells me that that will be something that I’ll wake up and be happy about.
“I just think that having time that I don’t have to always plan around my school schedule. My husband and I can say ‘hey tomorrow let’s get in the car and drive to beautiful downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Yeah, let’s go to Des Moines and visit my sister or Pennsylvania to visit my brother’, or maybe to go take a trip down to St. Louis where one of the grandsons works and is, and visit some of the kids at college, you know, things like that. Just a lot of family things, and maybe we’ll plan a little trip, but our first trip is to Des Moines, and we’re excited about that!”, Mrs. Gonder says smiling.
Most us of see Mrs. Gonder as the mother or grandmother of Cary-Grove, and seeing her go will be a hard thing to witness, but just because she’s leaving doesn’t mean that we’re letting her go, “I’ve always said that I have wanted to sub. I’ve always told them, so expect me back.
As for what she leaves us with, Mrs. Gonder gives us all a piece of advice: “If I ever wanted to leave a word of advice, which I don’t because I think you all will just grow up and become wonderful, but I have always felt, something that I was taught growing up, and from my own parents, and it’s to treat everybody the way you want to be treated, which is the Golden Rule, but just to be nice, you know. You can’t go wrong that way, you just can’t. That doesn’t mean you can’t be firm when you need to be, but it’s not always what you say, but how you say it, and mean it because you care about that person, and that’s what I’d like to leave behind”.
Mrs. Gonder may no longer have an official desk, but she will always be a part of this school and someone who made Cary-Grove what it is today. So with that, I’d like to say, on behalf of the entire school, we love you Mrs. Gonder.