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LHS counselor retires after 36 years

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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After a 36-year career, the last half spent as a Lincoln High School counselor, Kris Wyatt is taking a permanent summer vacation. “This is my extended summer,” Wyatt said. “It’s going to last forever.” In her retirement, Wyatt said she will catch up on her golf game, spend time at her condo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, soak up the sun on the Hawaiian Islands, visit Australia and take “lots” of camping trips. “I’m going to start a bucket list,” Wyatt said. One likely item on that list will be a big trip to hit all the major baseball parks in the United States. After spending 36 years in education, first as a physical education teacher at Glen Edwards Middle School, then as a leadership teacher and finally as a counselor at Lincoln High, Wyatt said she won’t be able to stay away from schools. So she will volunteer in her grandchildren’s classrooms. In addition to teaching, Wyatt coached volleyball, softball and gymnastics. In 1994, Wyatt took a counseling position at Lincoln High and ran the student activities – while going to school to finish her counseling credential. “My kids ate a lot of fish sticks and tater tots,” Wyatt said. Wyatt became head counselor for the school in 1996. “I loved activities, I loved coaching and I loved teaching health,” Wyatt said. “Counseling has been very different. I love it but it takes me away from the kids more.” As a counselor, Wyatt is responsible for making sure students graduate, helping them get admitted to college and guiding them in career choices. Personal counseling is another responsibility, according to Wyatt. Although Wyatt said she won’t miss the work, she will miss the job. “I absolutely love the kids. They have kept me young” Wyatt said. “I don’t like the stress but just the day-to-day contact with people is nice. I think we are a true family on this campus. We stick by each other. The Verizon Network reminds me of Lincoln High School.” Among Wyatt’s fondest memories during her career is taking the softball team to the playoffs in the 1980s. “That was big for us,” Wyatt said. In the mid-1980s, the district faced a financial crisis, and Wyatt, who was teaching at Lincoln High, was pink slipped and worked part time at the high school and part time at Glen Edwards. When Lincoln High Principal Dale Pence had a heart attack, he demanded to have Wyatt back at his school. “It’s morbid but that was one of the proudest moments of my life,” Wyatt said. Throughout her career, Wyatt has been devoted to the students at Lincoln High, said her daughter, Mandy Retallack, a science teacher at Lincoln High. “She’s more than just devoted,” Retallack said. “She’s committed to not only the students and school but the whole community.” Students don’t want her to leave. “I thought she was really great,” said freshman Breannon Files. “She’s always fun and helped me out a lot. It’s sad that she’s retiring this year.” Senior Sunniya Puri agreed with Breannon. “She’s amazing,” Puri said. “I absolutely adore her. She’s there for advice for school, friends and life in general.” There’s one aspect of work Wyatt won’t miss. “If I don’t want to get up at 5:30 to come to school, I don’t have to,” Wyatt said. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.