Centralia School District recognizes longtime employees and retirees 


The Centralia School District held a ceremony on Wednesday to recognize its retiring staff members and employees who have been with the district for 20 years or more. 

“We want to take the opportunity to say thank you to each person,” Superintendent Lisa Grant said Wednesday. “Twenty, yet alone 35 years of service in any one organization, honestly, unfortunately, is becoming less and less common and such a testament to the dedication of our staff to our district and our community, and so we’re so thankful to what they have contributed and continue to contribute in their years of service.” 

Grant also extended her thanks to those retiring — including several staff members who have been with the district for 25 or more years — for their service to the district. 

“Now, when people join our team, they walk the orange carpet. At retirement, it’s the black carpet walk, not because black is a bad color but because it’s our other Tiger color, and we just want to take the opportunity to publicly recognize the service,” Grant said.  

A list of those recognized by the district on Wednesday is below. 

A livestream recording of Wednesday’s ceremony is available on the Centralia School District’s Facebook page. 

Retirement recognition 

  • K’Lynn Winkle is retiring from Centralia Middle School after 22 years with the school and 25 with the district. “She has been a leader and a champion of social studies and the importance of civics within our school and our district,” Centralia Middle School Principal Lara Gregorich-Bennett said of Winkle, adding that Winkle is looking forward to spending time with her family, especially her grandkids. “She says she will miss our children and the friendships she has made at this school.” 
  • Fred Gallagher is retiring from Centralia Middle School after 25 years with the district. “Many of you know him for his stories and his anecdotes, and he’s very famous for saying, ‘You can do it, too,’” Gregorich-Bennett said of Gallagher, who is looking forward to traveling and spending time with his family. 
  • Sandy Johnson is retiring from Edison Elementary School after 25 years with the district. “I just want to thank you all for coming and say what a privilege it has been to teach in this community,” Johnson said. “I’ve taught in a few communities, but my heart will always be a part of Centralia. We have an amazing community and just really wonderful kids.” 
  • Kate Steward isretiring from Fords Prairie Elementary School. “There’s no one who’s been more committed in the 27 years of her teaching career than Kate Steward,” said Fords Prairie Principal David Roberts. “She is generous, remarkable and committed in ways that go well beyond what is reasonable for a teacher to actually do.” Steward plans to use her retirement to grow her hobby business, Create and Make by Kate.  “I want to thank you all. I loved working in Centralia,” Steward said. 
  • Jaye Roberts is retiring from Jefferson Lincoln Elementary School after 11 years with the school. “Our kiddos absolutely adore coming to groups with you, and you see that in the commitment that you that you come in every day (with) and the patience that you have with them,” Monica Grund said. “We have absolutely loved having you at Jefferson Lincoln and you will be very, very missed.” 

“I will miss being there, too,” Roberts said. “I was thankful for all the years I had there, and also at Oakview (Elementary) School. I did a lot of teaching. Saw a lot of great kids.” 

  • Robert “Bob” Sprague is retiring from Oakview Elementary School after about 30 years with the district. “To describe Bob’s influence over the last 30 years is really about the fact that he’s a steadfast encourager … He is an all-in for kids. You name it, Bob is about it,” Oakview Elementary School Principal Crystal Allen said, adding that Sprague is moving to Costa Rica. “He has truly and wholeheartedly given the Oakview community such a gift.”

Years of service recognition 

  • Lisa Deacon, 30 years: Deacon currently works as a paraeducator at Centralia Middle School. “When you talk to other staff or students about her, they always say she’s very dependable, she’s going to hold you accountable and she’s going to do it with love,” Gregorich-Bennett said of Deacon. 
  • Christy Cothren, 25 years: Cothren currently teaches first grade at Oakview Elementary School. “You are a true gift to Oakview and to our entire district.” Allen said.
  • Linda Smith, 20 years: Smith has worked at Futurus High School for the last four years. Smith graduated from Centralia High School, raised her kids in the district and eventually began working there in 1993 as a substitute paraeducator, according to Futurus Principal James Bowers. She worked in the district for several years before taking a few years off to raise their youngest child, returning to the district in 2004. 
  • Jodie Triana, 20 years: Triana currently works as the secretary at Centralia High School. “She is the face of the school and calms a lot of us down,” Centralia High School Principal Scott Embery said of Triana. “Because of her tenacity, things get done and things get done on time.” 
  • Jacqueline Vaughan, 20 years: Vaughan currently works as a paraeducator at Centralia Middle School teaching in the school’s life skills center. “She sees those things in people and creates that space to really celebrate others around her,” Gregorich-Bennett said of Vaughan.