, Muskogee, OK

May 17, 2012

Four Fort Gibson educators to retire

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— FORT GIBSON — It could be an understatement to say Phyllis Kindle has enjoyed her tenure at Fort Gibson Schools.

“My husband said they would not have to pay me to work here,” said Kindle, principal at Fort Gibson’s Early Learning Center.

Kindle has been paid well in her 25 years with the school district — not just monetarily, but in her satisfaction with her job. She is retiring this week to spend more time traveling with her husband.

Two teachers and a librarian also are retiring from the district.

Early Learning Center teachers honored Kindle with cake and punch at a reception earlier this week. The school’s guidance counselor, Shelly Holderby, will be the Early Learning Center’s new principal.

Holderby said she could not begin to say what she has learned under Kindle’s leadership.

“She was a great leader for the teachers,” Holderby said. “We all worked together.”

Kindergarten teacher Gina White recalls Kindle’s dedication.

“She’s very passionate about her job,” White said. “She’s concerned with everybody involved in the educational process.”

Such passion showed in the Early Learning Center’s success. In 2006 and 2007, the school made a perfect 1500 score on the state Academic Performance Index, which bases scores on attendance and student achievement. The ELC covers pre-kindergarten through second grade.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing students succeed,” Kindle said. “The growth at this school has truly been amazing.”

Kindle not only means student growth, but personal growth within her staff as well.

“They go through a lot of professional development, and they continue to grow,” she said.

Kindle spent her entire educational career at Fort Gibson schools, spending nine years teaching fourth grade and six years teaching first grade.

She said early childhood education has its rewards.

“They’re beginning to read. They’re learning numbers, always willing to learn,” Kindle said. “They’re an empty slate.”

Intermediate Elementary Principal Sherry Rybolt said several people are retiring or leaving the Intermediate Elementary this year.

Librarian Brenda Helms is retiring after 15 years at Fort Gibson.

“She was always willing to do what it takes to serve the kids,” Rybolt said.

Vocal music teacher Shirley Flaska was with Fort Gibson for five years after retiring from Wagoner.

“She was a class act with her kids performing variety show,” Rybolt said.

The school will be able to have a new music teacher, but will not get a new librarian, Rybolt said. She said the Intermediate school will have to share a counselor and a librarian with the ELC because of school budget cuts.

Robert Dewoody also is retiring after 19 years teaching math.

High School Principal Gary Sparks said Dewoody is leaving to spend full time in the ministry.

Fort Gibson’s special services administrator Marilyn Dewoody is leaving the district after 21 years of service to become superintendent of Hulbert Schools. Fort Gibson Superintendent Derald Glover said tasks Marilyn Dewoody performed, including testing, will be spread out among other staff members.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

Retiring faculty

• Phyllis Kindle, Early Learning Center Principal, 25 years with Fort Gibson.

• Brenda Helms, intermediate elementary librarian, 15 years at Fort Gibson

• Bob Dewoody, high school math teacher, 19 years at Fort Gibson.

• Shirley Flaska, intermediate and middle school vocal music teacher, five years at Fort Gibson.