The Mercer Island School District will say goodbye to five employees next week as they enter retirement: West Mercer Elementary School principal Pat Blix; interim Director of Testing and Evaluation Sharon Gillaspie; West Mercer fourth-grade teacher Nancy Frost; Islander Middle School paraprofessional Holly Pratt; and Mercer Island High School Spanish teacher Carrie Sparlin.
In addition, several people will be resigning this year, including long-time IMS paraprofessional Bill McGlasson.
Blix has worked in the district for two years, taking over for former West Mercer principal Jean Anthony in 2006. The principal is quite the globe trotter. Before joining MISD, Blix worked for the International School Manila in the Philippines, the American Community School in London and an international middle school in Tel Aviv, Israel. She held the position of middle school principal at all three institutions. Despite her worldly experience, Blix has gained much from her two years on Mercer Island.
“For me this was unique because it was my first experience with elementary,” she said.
After retiring, Blix will take on some educational consulting projects and spend time with her family. “I also want to get back to my roots as a former art teacher,” she said. “I’ll be doing some design work at home.”
Blix will be leaving West Mercer with fourth-grade teacher Frost, who she admires as an educator.
“Nancy is one of the pillars in our school, and she’s going to be missed a great deal,” Blix said. “She is one of those people who has a long history at West Mercer and is well-known in the community.”
Gillaspie, former principal of Islander Middle School for six years, took on administrative responsibilities last fall. Before joining the district, she was associate principal for Snoqualmie Middle School. Gillaspie will be entering retirement with her husband. The couple plans to travel, enjoy time at home and take care of their new granddaughter.
“It’s been an incredible privilege to serve this community,” Gillaspie said, reflecting on her seven years with MISD. “The support here exceeds any other place I’ve worked. I’m going to miss the people, the community and the students the most.”
Islander Middle School will lose two paraprofessionals this year: Pratt and McGlasson. The former spent most of her Island career working with special education students at Island Park.
McGlasson, who is resigning after 19 years at IMS, has long been a familiar face in the hallways. His role as student supervisor includes general campus clean-up, working as a hall-moniter, supervising during lunches and helping middle-schoolers with a variety of individual needs.
“He’s done a great job of forming strong, positive relationships with kids, staff and families,” said Associate Principal Aaron Miller. “He helps students with just about any issue you can imagine.”
MIHS Spanish teacher Sparlin is a veteran to the district, having worked at the high school for 39 years. Indeed, the Spanish department has bloomed around Sparlin over the decades.
“She’s unbelievable. She stands out amongst Spanish teachers not just here but in the greater area,” said department colleague Gordon Davenport, who has worked with Sparlin for 34 years. “Her depth and breadth of knowledge in Spanish culture, language, music and history is just phenomenal.”
All five MISD retirees were honored at a school district party on June 2.