Emcee Laura Hanigan (above, standing, left) introduced the four honorees at the Employee Recognition for Years of Service to KU reception on July 16 at the Life Span Institute at Parsons’ research conference room in her own humorous and inimitable style.
Laura reminded those gathered that Cynthia Huebner, Information Specialist I, began her career at LSI/Parsons on March 29, 1984 as a clerk steno and now, as she receives her 30-year pin and framed print, she wears many hats including webmaster.
Misty Goosen, KITS Coordinator, serves the KITS statewide program from her office in Lawrence.
Dr. Jerry Rea, Superintendent of the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center as well as KU graduate and Principal Investigator of the Family Care Treatment Program received his 15-year pin at a later date.
Peggy Gentry was the recipient of her 10-year pin and to many of her colleagues, it just seemed more like 8 years since she accepted a position with the Family Care Treatment Program in September, 2006, but we were wrong. Here’s how Peggy explains it: My connection with PSH&TC and the KU Life Span Institute at Parsons began in 1970, has covered a span of 40 years, and seen me progress from using a manual typewriter to a laptop computer! My story started in January of 1970 while I was attending Pittsburg State University and working nights in the Title I Project on Walnut B cottage with seven boys with severe and multiple disabilities. After graduation my job was to develop and manage self-help programs for the young boys in the Chestnut Basement day program. Later moving to Hickory Cottage, I participated in training a KU affiliated language research program in addition to the self-help programs for young clients.
Vocational instructor and classroom teacher came next with the Special Purpose School. My classroom was part of several research studies conducted by staff from the KU Life Span. After nine years affiliated with PSH&TC, I took a position with the University of Oregon in 1979 and Tom Bellamy’s project in Eugene. For three years we worked on creating vocational packages that were published, teaching moderately challenged individuals how to use hand tools and woodworking equipment. And yes, I did take a high school wood working class and came out with a great little table!
I returned to Parsons in 1982 to work at the KU Research Building with Dr. Charles Spellman and Dr. John Aiken. Our focus revolved around teaching clients from PSH&TC to work on jobs within industries in the community. The job entailed my actual working on assembly lines in companies and developing the task analysis of each job, breaking the skills down into teachable steps. I then trained Special Purpose School staff on how to train and supervise clients on these same jobs. I completed various graduate hours through the University of Kansas and Pittsburg State University to obtain certifications in Special Education and Vocational Rehabilitation K-12. I was asked to teach classes at PSU in the Vocational Ed Department on task analysis, but declined the offer. Guess those skills I developed analyzing job sites paid off! All the foreign students in my analysis class thought I was a genius! HA! HA!
Our project developed into working with multiple trainers on multiple sites in seven communities and the project was moved to the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center under the direction of Dr. John Aiken. During the thirteen years with the Service Center I also worked in the Media Center taking a traveling show to schools to offer instruction on how to use the latest laser disc and cd technology for the classroom as well as teaching beginning computer skills to educational staff. For two years I worked with students with learning disabilities through the Science Center teaching horticulture and history. I presented evening programs to students from the community on the constellations.
For the next eight years starting as part of a Parsons community grant and later as a part of the Education Service Center, I coordinated YouthFriends, an in-school mentoring program that covered four school districts (Parsons, Altamont, Oswego, Chetopa) in Southeast Kansas. I recruited and trained qualified/screened mentors to work with students grade K through 12 during the school day and at lunch. Our mentors ranged from a chef, to a lawyer, to business owners, to housewives and retired persons. The entire Parsons City Fire Department was recruited into the YouthFriends program to volunteer as mentors called “Lunch Buddies”. We were proudly the only Fire Department in Kansas and Missouri to do so.
In 2006, I once again returned to work for the KU Life Span, this time as the recruiter/caller with the Southeast Kansas Family Care Treatment Program. With Dr. Katie Hine as my coordinator, our project works with families with children with challenging behaviors. This has been a very successful project and I can truly say it has made a positive difference in the lives of many families in Southeast Kansas.
Throughout my life I have always been involved with teaching on some level, working in education, and with the public. Grant work has been very enjoyable in that it provides you the opportunity to change projects every few years and learn new skill sets while working with a variety of interesting people. At times it can be challenging however, not knowing where your next job is coming from, but also very exciting at all the possibilities that lie before you.
As we are approaching our project’s end in December, and I am approaching retirement age, I look back at all the projects I have worked on, people I have called co-workers and friends, and children and families whose lives have been positively impacted by these projects. I have been lucky and I am grateful to have been a part of the KU Life Span family. I hope that new and interesting projects will continue to come this way and the KU Life Span will continue to positively impact lives for years to come. It makes me smile and it makes me proud to be a JayHawk. ROCK CHALK!