Stevie, Kulsrud will still be involved in schools, community
By Marcy Stamper
Joni Stevie and Rocky Kulsrud are both retiring after long careers as teachers with the Methow Valley School District, but they aren’t cutting the cord completely — they’ll both still be regularly involved with students as athletic coaches.
Stevie has a noteworthy history with Methow Valley schools. A Liberty Bell High School graduate, she spent her entire 31-year career in the district, teaching everything from math to geography to phys-ed.
Stevie started out teaching junior high and high school, but her biggest mark has been as an elementary school teacher. She switched to fifth grade in 1987 for about five years, and then moved up to sixth grade and found her niche. “I like that curriculum — math was fun,” said Stevie. “It’s an interesting age group — you see how much they mature from the beginning to the end of the year.”
Stevie especially values the close relationships she developed over the years with staff and students.
Stevie looks forward to having time to hike and enjoy the outdoors, read and catch up on projects, and just relax and take it easy.
Stevie will continue coaching girls’ basketball and volleyball, continuing the connection with kids outside the classroom, which she always enjoyed.
“I’m not quite ready to totally disengage,” said Stevie, who called retirement “bittersweet.”
Rocky Kulsrud is retiring after a 35-year career teaching history, 21 of those at Liberty Bell.
Kulsrud has especially enduring memories of the 18 trips he’s made to Washington, D.C., with the Close Up program, where students see government in action and have a variety of cultural experiences.
“It’s a unique experience — I really enjoyed it. I wanted to keep going because it was new for each group of kids,” he said. Kulsrud showed off a photo taken in 2007 of him and his students with Sen. John McCain and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, both of whom were campaigning for president.
Because Kulsrud contributed so much to Close Up, the organization wanted to honor his retirement. This past year, they coordinated with Sen. Maria Cantwell, who presented him with a flag that had flown over the Capitol.
Kulsrud has dedicated his career to making history interesting for kids, by developing relationships and mutual respect and getting students engaged in current events and in national and global issues.
“I really have enjoyed my experience here at Liberty Bell with the kids — they’re so special. It’s always good for me to remind myself there are a lot of kids in this valley who come from very difficult situations. We live in a society that’s so self-centered. We need to be looking out for others — that’s what I try to embody,” he said.
Kulsrud looks forward to spending more time with his family and to traveling. He has been learning Hebrew and is building his fluency. He hopes to put his language skills to use in a trip to Israel — he traveled there with a humanitarian organization several years ago and would like to visit again.
Kulsrud will still coach track and field at Liberty Bell for at least the next year or two.