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Joan Valentine reaches 40 years of service

On Oct. 19, members of the Independence community gathered on campus for a socially distanced celebration of employee service milestones, with Joan Valentine becoming just the second person in school history to reach 40 years. Mrs. Valentine follows our business manager, Kathy Neal, who achieved the feat last fall.

“An active member of our community and the social committee, Joan always has everyone’s best interest at heart,” Head of School Vicky Yatzus said. “We congratulate Joan on this milestone, the second 40-year award given in the school’s history.”

Mrs. Valentine began her historic tenure with Independence by volunteering for one year in the school's infancy at Polly Drummond Shopping Center. She started part-time employment during the 1980-81 school year as a library aide, a position she held for three years. By the mid-1980s, Mrs. Valentine worked full time on the current Paper Mill Road campus, splitting her day between the library in the morning and the front office in the afternoon. Eventually, she became a full-time member of the office staff as secretary and receptionist, in addition to spending more than two decades handling the procurement of substitute teachers.

Today, Mrs. Valentine serves as administrative assistant and helps Mrs. Neal and the business office whenever necessary. Her contributions to Independence over the past four decades are highly regarded, and her playful sense of humor, outgoing personality and calm demeanor, regardless of the situation, have all become hallmarks of the front office environment.

In addition to Mrs. Valentine’s milestone, middle school English teacher Lynn Fabian and Christy Koense, Head of Lower School, both celebrated 20 years.

The remaining list of those honored follows below:

15 Years

  • Barbara Annable (First Grade)
  • Cathy Bair (Librarian; Odyssey of the Mind)
  • Kelly Bush (Second Grade)
  • Sarah Gilmore ’01 (Fourth Grade)
  • Margaret Reiter (Extended Day)
  • Terri Shockley (Fifth Grade; Girls’ Basketball Coach)

10 Years

  • Laura Fallon (Latin and French)
  • Daniel Kitching ’01 (Music; Director of Bands)
  • Kevin McDonald (Middle School English; Director of Extended Day & Summer at Independence)
  • Kathy Osborne (Nurse)

5 Years

  • Michele Harra (Director of Advancement and Enrollment Management; Student Ambassadors)
  • Lingchin Liao (Strings Instructor)
  • Jennifer Saggese (Fourth Grade)