Immanuel Lutheran School in Brandon is preparing to salute two longtime educators who will be sorely missed at the school, according to colleagues and parents.
Principal Dave Geidel and teacher Betty Jeanes will retire next month.
Jeanes has been teaching at Immanuel Lutheran since 1994, working as resource teacher and substitute. She is currently the Christian school’s response-to-intervention teacher, identifying and working with students who might need extra help in a subject.
“Betty is a terrific teacher and the kids just love her,” said Jenny West, Immanuel Lutheran’s admissions counselor. “When word got around that Betty was retiring, I heard parents say, ‘How do we get another Mrs. Jeanes?’ She is adored by all.”
Jeanes’ demeanor never seems to change, West said. “The lady never seems to have a bad day, or you wouldn’t know it. She doesn’t hesitate to step in wherever needed and doesn’t bat an eye. She’s warm and loving, just the person every kid loves to have help them in areas where they might be struggling.”
“Mr. Geidel is a constant presence at the school who always goes above and beyond,” said Kori Hamilton, president of the Immanuel Lutheran School Parents Club. “There is nothing beyond his abilities,” she said. “It’s not just a job for him. He drives the school bus and will pitch in anywhere. He’s such a guiding force for the children.”
Adding a preschool — the school is in the process of adding another preschool room — and earning accreditation from Florida Department of Education and the National Lutheran School Accreditation in March 2012 were some of the highlights during Geidel’s tenure. “A lot of technology is being used in classrooms by teachers today,” said Geidel, reflecting on changes at the school since he took over.
Geidel started his teaching career in Lutheran schools in Minnesota in 1972, and has been serving as Immanuel Lutheran’s principal since 2006. He also teaches Old Testament to fifth-grade students. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University, Neb., as well as a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado.
“We have a dedicated staff of teachers here who work really hard and look at the whole child. For example, teachers recently took a group of seventh- and eighth-grade students on a trip to Washington, D.C.,” said Geidel, who will be hanging up his short-sleeve shirts for a while and moving to South Dakota or Nebraska to be closer to family.
Jeanes said she will miss the atmosphere and her students. “Always the children,” said Jeanes, who holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Texas A&M University. She has taught in Arizona, Texas, Japan and Germany, following her husband around the globe during his military career.
“At Immanuel, I love the family atmosphere,” she said. “That has always been very special.”
So special that, even after retiring, Jeanes will volunteer three days a week next year to help students who need individual attention.
“I have always had a passion for finding different ways that children learn,” she said. “I think it’s so important to meet children where they are. I just can’t imagine not being around the kids.”
“Betty [Jeanes] is a very loving person and always there with warmth and encouragement. She shows God’s will through her own actions,” said Hamilton, an Immanuel Lutheran alumni whose two children also attend the school.
“Betty goes above and beyond,” said Nancy Richards, a former principal at Immanuel Lutheran. “She is very interested in helping children who need a little extra help. It takes a very special person to be able to do that.”
Richards also said that Geidel will be missed. “Dave Geidel enjoys the children so much he will — on his own time — often go to their baseball games,” Richards said. “He’s a wonderful man who is very caring of children.”
Next semester, teacher Lisa Talbot will be responsible for third through eighth grade. Bonne Faherty will oversee preschool through second grade.
Geidel’s advice to the new administrative team? “Keep things in perspective and enjoy the students.”
Founded in 1980 with 72 students, Immanuel Lutheran today serves 160 students from preschool to eighth grade. The private school offers a full curriculum, including computer instruction, physical education, Spanish, music and middle-school electives as well as an extended-care program, on-site hot-lunch program, athletics and extracurricular activities.
For more information about Immanuel Lutheran, call 813-685-1978. The school is at 2913 John Moore Road in Brandon.