All of the loose and untidy ends that

Chad Dryden Published:

All of the loose and untidy ends that frustrate a busy life miraculously came together on the day Helen Jane (Strimple) Wilson retired from her position as coordinator of the Maplewood Career Center Adult Basic and Literacy Education Program on April 11. Suddenly, the endless days of writing grants, presiding over meetings, attending to paperwork, balancing budgets, managing staff, developing new programs, adapting to unforeseen events and generally putting out fires melted away. All that remained were family, friends and colleagues who had shared those days and frustrations and the well-deserved accolades that were due after a lifelong commitment to literacy. During an elegant reception held in her honor at the Maplewood Career Center, Wilson was praised for her 42-year career in education, first as a social studies teacher at Ravenna High School and then as an ABLE teacher, as ABLE coordinator since 1984 and as Portage County Literacy Coalition director since 1989. Maplewood ABLE director Tom Edwards recognized Wilson as a crusader for ABLE students, always seeking out new ways to serve the community by tapping into available grants that would increase educational opportunity for Portage County residents. Other leaders from local and state levels spoke of Wilsons accomplishments and showered her with commemorative plaques, awards, flowers and even her own Helen Jane Wilson Day to be observed every April 11. Most touching was a surprise visit from Helen Jane and Don Wilsons eldest son (of five), Don Wilson III, an accomplished banker from Manhattan. As he strode to the podium his mother broke out in tears. The proud son choked back his own emotion as he spoke of his mothers outstanding character, inspiring leadership and impeccable reputation. She is the only 77-year-old woman I know who is still at the top of her game, he said. As she took the podium herself, Wilson dedicated her retirement day to her father, Ross Strimple, who had served many years on the Kent City Schools Board of Education and instilled a passion for lifelong learning within her. It was not until a few days prior to her retirement day that Wilson realized April 11 was the day her father passed away in 1962. She also announced her confidence in Doris Stull-Schoning, who (pending approval from the Maplewood Career Center Board of Education) will carry the torch hence as coordinator of the Maplewood ABLE program. Stull-Schoning has worked with the ABLE program for 16 years, first as a tutor, then as a teachers aide, supervising tutor trainer, literacy instructor, assessment orientation coordinator and program assistant. Her diverse experience, which includes development of the local English for Speakers of Other Languages, Learning Disabled, and Portage County Jail programs, is expected to serve her well in her new position. She has acquired extensive experience in the many aspects of ABLE and has a lot of energy to maintain this great program and to continue its growth in helping adults to help themselves to lifelong learning, Wilson said. For more information about the Maplewood ABLE program, call coordinator Doris Stull-Schoning at (330) 297-4418. To reach the Portage County Literacy Coalition, call (330) 297-4418. Director Helen Jane Wilson can be reached by e-mail at hjwilson@maplenet.sparcc.org.

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