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The North Bend Eagle


 

Wattses combined for 75 years at NBC

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 5/12/0

Dan and Connie Watts have both been involved in North Bend Schools for the past 30-plus years, Dan in the classroom for 36 and Connie in the kitchen for 34 years. They are both retiring, but plan to stay in North Bend.

Dan Watts stands in front of his world history class.Dan Watts instructs his world history class during the final weeks of his 36-year tenure at NBC.

“It’s home,” Connie said.

The Wattses are originally from Blair and Herman. When Dan got out of the Air Force in 1974, there were two social studies positions open at NBC, and one of them became his.

The couple wanted to give their two children continuity in their schooling, as they had, so decided to make North Bend their long-term home. Their children are now grown and gone, Vicki in Kansas City and Pat in Excelsior Springs, Mo., but North Bend remains home for Dan and Connie.

Dan said he appreciated the opportunity to teach and coach entire families of siblings and then some of their children.

“I’ve been around some families so much: coaching, graduations, teaching, etcetera, that I feel like I am one of their family members,” Watts said.

In trying to pick a special memory, Watts said he had so many he couldn’t come close to picking one.

“I am always elated to have a student have the ‘ah ha’ moment of learning and the athlete that reaches a goal of theirs,” Watts said. “You just don’t forget the look on their faces.

“Some very special moments come when I hear from a former student-athlete that realizes something I taught or showed them turned out to have value in their lives and then they take the time to let me know.”

Watts said that one of the accomplishments he is proud of is being able to offer world history as a college prep class and “the fact I know the students know more when they leave class than when they came into class.”

Watts coached for all his years at NBC, starting the girls cross country and girls junior high track programs.

Watts will also be remembered for his years of involvement with proms at NBC. For years he was the prom sponsor and penned many of the entertaining skits put on by the sophomore waiters.

NBC kitchenConnie Watts, right, will be retiring after working in the NBC cafetiera for 34 years. Deb Kavan, left, will take over for Watts as Food Manager.

“Even though prom was a major headache sometimes, I’m glad I made the effort to do something extra to make it a big part of the high school experience.”
Watts has had a big influence in NBC’s technology. He helped the school stay current with many of the innovations in technology that are common in schools today.

“I can only hope I have been more a part of the solution than a part of the problem,” Watts said.

Connie Watts started to work in the NBC kitchen two years after the family moved to North Bend. After a few years she was made Food Service Manager and became state certified for that position. For the past 15 years she has been teaching summer classes for workers from across the state helping them earn their state Food Service Manager Certificate.

Connie said one advantage of staying in North Bend has been the many lasting friendships with people. Special memories abound in the work place and community.

“I have been very fortunate to work closely with so many wonderful women in the cafeteria over the years and that is a reason to stay for so long,” she said. “They have given me many laughs and we have shared a few sad and tearful times also, but they have always been there for me and I hope me for them.”

Connie has seen many changes over the years in the requirements in school lunch programs. Starting the breakfast program and adding a salad bar for everyone were two of the many changes she instigated that she hopes were a big plus for the students.

“I hope we have always made it better for our students,” Wattses said. “That is our goal and to still stay in compliance with all the federal regulations.”

The Wattses have no particular plans for retirement. Connie is looking forward to sleeping past 5 a.m. Dan says he will catch his breath and relax a bit and then look at the future. And North Bend will remain home.

“North Bend is the kind of community that you can reach the level of involvement you would like,” Dan said. “You can join, volunteer, or maybe be elected to whatever you desire. One person can make a difference in North Bend and not just be a statistic on the population sign at the edge of town.”

Both Wattses see a positive outlook for North Bend schools. Connie sees growth in the elementary school carrying over to the high school.

“I see NBC reaching out to a broader area to attract students,” Dan said. “I have always believed if you look at our school system, you will find strength of programs in about anything we do. Other people (if faced with a decision) should recognize this and want to be a part of the dedicated, innovative school district we have.”

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