Pelkin retires after 33 years at Eisenhower Elementary
By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – It was an emotional day for Eisenhower Elementary playground supervisor and lunchroom monitor Ellen Pelkin, Dec. 23.
After 33 years, Pelkin said goodbye to the students and the rest of the staff at Eisenhower.
The school community threw her a retirement celebration complete with a ride through the halls of the school on a chair pushed by Principal Annette Zernicke.
“Everybody here is going to miss her, she’s amazing,” Zernicke said. “She does so much and she has touched so many children’s lives. She’s always there, with that smile on her face. Always. I’ve never seen someone who comes to work every day and is as happy as she is. She’s an amazing lady in so many capacities. We were just so blessed to have her.”
The hallways at Eisenhower were lined with its 540 students as they bid farewell to “Ms. Ellen.”
Many of them made cards, so many that, by the time her trip around campus was finished, they were spilling out of her lap.
Signs wishing her well were all over the place and the hugs were plentiful.
“I feel presidential,” Pelkin said. “I’m really honored. Every staff person here should be sitting here because of what they do and the love they have for these kids. They’re amazing people. We have the best staff here at Eisenhower.”
Pelkin started at Eisenhower as a volunteer more than three decades ago before coming on board full time.
She said the secret to sticking around so long is simple.
“Love for what I’m doing,” Pelkin said. “I’ve been blessed and you don’t walk away from blessings very easily.”
Retirement will be a bittersweet process, one that will take some time to get used to, Pelkin said.
“It’s been such a joy for me to work here and retiring is actually hard,” she said. “But I hope to come back and help out in any way I can. I love it. My heart is here.”
Pelkin said her plans for retirement are very simple – spend time with her husband and her son, enjoy morning coffee and just try to relax.
She said she might give book writing a shot.
When asked what her role at the school was following her hug-filled lap around the hallways of Eisenhower Elementary:
“To be the happiest person on earth, because that’s what I’ve become working here at Eisenhower,” she answered quickly.