Families grow a lot over 40 years, as two teachers in Papillion La Vista Community Schools were reminded on May 23.
Bruce Nissen, a business teacher at La Vista Middle School, and Gary Andersen, an English teacher at Papillion-La Vista South High School, retired this year with 43 and 41 years of service, respectively, in the district.
They and their fellow educators were honored during a ceremony at the district’s central office with other retiring district employees and those who had reached 25, 30 and 35 years of service.
Nissen started teaching at LVMS, then known as La Vista Junior High, in 1976, and in the time since has been a head volleyball and boys track coach and started a strength and conditioning program. He takes pride in how much the track program has grown and its 36 conference trophies for championships and runner-up finishes.
His last track team gave him a maroon tie with a gold LV stitched in, which was fitting because he is known for his ties.
“I thought that was pretty cool for 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds to do,” he said.
Over the years, he said, he’s been to countless birthday parties, graduations and other celebrations of milestones in his students’ lives. He’s even been the best man in a former student’s wedding.
The number of business leaders who have visited his classroom and the support the community gave were highlights of his time as a teacher.
“It’s the families of the school district and the support that they give in the process, you’re working together to get the job done and so it makes you feel like part of the family,” he said.
Anderson started teaching Latin at North Platte High School in 1975 and came to Papillion Junior High in 1978 to be closer to family. He also moved to P-LV South when it opened.
He remembers being scared to death and uncertain that first year, but he soon found a supportive environment.
He considers going to Halleck Park for “Romeo and Juliet” and moments when students surprised him as highlights, but the camaraderie with his fellow teachers will stand out.
“There’s a teamwork and a unity of purpose that makes teaching really special, so you don’t feel like you’re alone out there,” he said.
Other district employees honored for their years of service and retirement, with their most recent role in the district:
Margaret Alexander, La Vista Middle, 16 years; Patricia Arsenault, Anderson Grove, 11 years; Nanette Birkemeier, Portal, 18 years; Paul Bohn, director of student services, 14 years; Beverly Bonner, St. C, 24 years; Susan Connett, Anderson Grove, 13 years; Laurie Earnest-Little, High Ability Learner, 16 years; Christine Ebke, PLSHS, 10 years; Susan Erickson, Trumble Park, 22 years; Linda Floro, Bell, 18 years; Kathryn Folts, Rumsey Station, 24 years; Arden Gross, Papillion-La Vista High School, 26 years; Carol Healy, Prairie Queen, 25 years; Carolyn Herrenbruck, PLSHS, 24 years; Patricia Higgins, PLHS, 21 years; Tim Hoffman, buildings and grounds maintenance, 11 years; Dan Hogan, PLSHS, 16 years; Renee Hyde, assistant superintendent of human resources; 12 years; Timothy Koca, PLHS, 35 years; Lori Larsen, IDEAL, 29 years; Nancy Mahoney, Anderson Grove; eight years; David Maron, Anderson Grove, 10 years; Jane McGill, Carriage Hill, 19 years; Loey Minske, Carriage Hill, 15 years; Gary Morris, La Vista Middle, 17 years; David Morrison, PLSHS, 21 years; Valerie Mouttet, PLHS, 21 years; Beverly Neumann, Papillion Middle, 15 years; Bonnie Nightser, La Vista Middle, 34 years; Monika Peters, Papillion Middle, 15 years; Sharon Thacker, PLHS, 10 years; Luther Wilfrid, Tara Heights, 15 years; Mary Ann Williams, PLSHS, 23; Robert Wills II, Portal, 19 years; Janet Winter, Rumsey Station, 24 years; Raymond Wood, La Vista Middle, 35 years.