Two sisters, with a combined 84 years of service to the Satsop School District, are retiring.
Marsha Hendrick and Mary Wolfe grew up in Elma. Both took different paths, but wound up devoting much of their lives to the school district, their community, and the three-classroom school that’s stood since 1902.
Hendrick always knew she wanted to be a teacher, and worked for the Satsop School District as an aide when she was attending Grays Harbor College and summers when she moved on to Central Washington University.
“In 1973, there were more teachers than there were jobs,” said Hendrick. “Until I ran into Don McFarland, who was here at the time and also had been my fifth-grade teacher in Elma, and he said, ‘Do you have a job?’ And I said no, not yet. He said, well, if you don’t have a job on the first day of school, come down, and I’ll put you to work. So I came down, and haven’t left.”
As Wolfe recalls, her sister “ran into” McFarland at a grocery store, and that got the whole thing rolling.
Hendrick subbed teaching the second and third grades for about a month, then went full time in October 1973. She taught third or fourth grade until 1980, taught first and second grade for a year, then moved back into the third and fourth grades. When McFarland retired in 1984, she took over teaching grades 4-6 and the position of Superintendent/Principal.
As with many small districts, staff wears many different hats. This month, Hendrick will retire as Superintendent/Principal, grades 4-6 teacher, secretary to the school board, curriculum director, and technology director.
Wolfe is a para educator, who took the state para educator exam and started working for the district in 1985.
Both decided the time was right for retirement.
“I always said, ‘Do you want to go out on a good year?’ Last year was not a good year,” said Hendrick, referring of course to the COVID-related shutdowns and restrictions and regulations. “And this was, I think, as good as it’s gonna get, you know, I don’t want to wait anymore. I mean, it’s one of those things where you kind of just have to pull the trigger eventually, hard as it can be.”
As far as future plans, Hendrick, who still lives in Elma, said she had no “grand plans” at the time, but would like to get into some child advocacy work for the courts and foster children.
Wolfe, of Montesano, said she and her husband want to do a little bit of traveling and spend some time with their five grandchildren.
“It’s been a great run. And we have a great community with great support, great parents,” said Hendrick. “And it really never seemed like going to work.”
“I never said I was going to work,” said Wolfe. “I said, ‘I was going to school.’ It was never ‘going to work.’ I think that’s part of the reason why it’s taken so long to retire is because I love my job.”
The Satsop community is small, tight-knit, and the school district tends to hang onto its teachers and staff long-term, which provides stability for the entire community and the 50 or so students currently enrolled in the school.
“We’ve always worked with great people,” said Hendrick. “For the most part, you know, we have people stay here. Janet Rosenbach, who retired last year, had been here 15 years. People stay. That provides a stability for not only people to work here, but for the kids too.” According to the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, teachers in the Satsop School District have an average of 25.4 years of teaching experience.
During the sisters’ Daily World interview at the school, evidence of that stability was seated at a desk in the front row of the classroom waiting for his mother to pick him up from school.
“His mother I had as a student years ago, and his grandmother went to school here,” said Hendrick, pointing at the student. “His great-grandmother was on the school board forever, and was our business manager.”
Current first grade teacher and 12-year veteran of the district Tiffany Osgood will be stepping into the role of superintendent as Hendrick retires.
“Another chapter in the legacy of Satsop School is slowly coming to a close and I have nothing but excitement for its future,” said Osgood. “I have been blessed to work at Satsop School with Mrs. Hendrick and Mrs. Wolfe for the last 12 years. It is through the course of those years that I have grown, been stretched and even done things I never dreamt I would do.”
Osgood continued, “I know much of that growth can be attributed to the caring interest shown to me by Mrs. Mary Wolfe and to the guiding hand of my principal and mentor Mrs. Marsha Hendrick. Mrs. Hendrick lived by two key principles, and I would attribute them to her longevity in education. The first was ‘family first’ and the second was ‘if you can’t be flexible, you can’t work here.’ Together these were her guiding light.”
Osgood said she’s honored the school board has given her this opportunity to “follow in Mrs. Hendrick’s footsteps. She carved a deep path of tradition and it is on that path I would like to stay. From field trips to cursive, Feller’s Nights to Ladies’ Tea, each has a special place in the fabric of this school. I do not want to unwind what holds us together, but I am also eager to help build new memories in the years to come. I am confident that the future looks bright for students entering the doors of the little red school house next fall.”