The North Bend Eagle


Ring's time at NBC highlighted by special student

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 5/8/13

Mary Samuelson Ring is retiring from her papa-professional position in North Bend schools. She is taking with her some special memories of one particularly special person, and a whole lot of special friends.

This is Ring’s second retirement from North Bend schools, she worked in the kitchen when her late husband, John Samuelson, taught social studies at NBC.

Mary Rind and Thad WieserThad Wieser and Mary Ring enjoy themsevles at the 2009 NBC prom.

They left in 1977, but he returned as elementary principal in 1988. After his death in 1994, Ring stayed in North Bend, married again and North Bend became her home.

Ring, 72, started working as a para at North Bend Elementary in 1991. She worked with the youngest students for three years then started with Thad Wieser. Thad was a Down syndrome child whom Ring seemed to click with. She went to workshops to help her help him. Thus began a 15-year journey as Thad progressed through the school.

“Working with Thad,” she said, “was the most rewarding thing I did, seeing him accomplish things day by day.”

When Thad was ready to go to the high school building, Ring was asked if she want to go with him.

“I hated to see him go to that great big school,” she said, “so I said I’d give it a try.”

So to high school they went. Wherever Ring went Thad went. “He was my sidekick,” she said. Through her Thad got to know the teachers and through him, she got to go to prom again. Ring got them flowers. She wore a special dress and he wore a tux, which he didn’t like.

“He got out and danced,” Ring said. “Some of the girls asked him to dance, even some of the boys did. He had a blast.”

Ring commends the students at both the elementary and high school for their acceptance of Thad.

“I thought he’d get teased, made fun of, but they didn’t,” Rind said. “The kids were wonderful with Thad.”

After Wieser finished school in 2009, Ring went back to working with other students, splitting her time between the two buildings.

“I’m going to miss the kids and my co-workers,” Ring said about impending retirement. “The students kind of keep you young, keep your mind young. My fellow workers are like family.”

Ring has no definite plans for her retirement, but hopes to include visits to children and to two friends she still has from Winnabago High School now living in Colorado and Texas.

She still gets together with Thad regularly and will continue to do so. And Ring plans to substitute at the schools as a para or in the kitchen.

With her retirement Ring will take plenty of good memories and one special friend who is still a part of her life.

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