Longtime educators bid adieu

After 33 years with the Moffat County School District, Tom Nagoda said leaving will be hard, but he thinks it's time.

This was the Craig Middle School counselor's last year, but he stresses that he's resigning, not retiring.

He and his wife, Barb, also a long-time school district employee, will be moving to Grand Junction. He likens the decision to graduating from high school -- he knows he's moving on, but he doesn't know where he's headed.

"We'll see what happens when we get there," he said.

He doesn't have specific plans yet, except that he will go back to work.

Friday was his last day.

"We have a good school district," he said. "I've had two good jobs here."

Nagoda moved to Craig in 1972 to take a job as a high school English and math teacher. In 1981, he made a difficult decision. He decided to pursue his master's degree in counseling. He spent three summers in Alamosa -- away from his wife and two sons -- to make it happen.

"I did it, and it was worth it," he said.

This last week has been an emotional one, Nagoda said, filled with many goodbyes even though he won't be leaving for several months.

"It's hard to leave here because we have so many ties," he said. "When we first moved here, we knew no one. This was a very difficult decision for us, but we decided to try something different."

Steve Wiersma

Craig Middle School Principal Steve Wiersma has known for a while that he would be moving to the Front Range, he just didn't expect it to happen so suddenly.

"Things kind of fell into place for us," he said.

His wife, Sandy, was offered a job with the Colorado Department of Revenue and when he looked, Wiersma found a position as the assistant principal of an Arvada middle school.

He's looking forward to the challenge of working in a larger school district and being closer to family, but there's a lot he'll miss.

"This has been home to us," he said. "The school district has been wonderful to my family and me, and I really like the people here. It's been a great place to work."

Wiersma moved to Craig in 1987 from South Dakota. He taught at a private school for eight years before he sought a job that paid better. He met then-high school Principal Joe Janosec at a University of Northern Colorado job fair, came for an interview and has been in Craig since.

Wiersma started as a high school English teacher, worked for a year as the high school's assistant principal and became the Craig Middle School principal in 1999.

Wiersma will likely be in Craig for a couple of months, tying up loose ends. He's expected at his new job by the end of July, and Sandy has already started hers.

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