Sunflower School principal Janet Broers will retire at the end of the school year.
She was eligible to retire two years ago, but Sunflower School principal Janet Broers knew her work wasn't finished.
So she stayed.
"I felt like there were things I wasn't quite ready to leave," Broers said. "Sunflower had not been open long enough, and I wanted things to be up and running."
Now, with the school at capacity, Broers has sent a letter home with students telling them she plans to retire at the end of the school year.
"It was not an easy decision," she said. "What helped me decide was I have grandchildren and daughters I would like to spend time with. My mother and mother-in-law are still alive and I want to be there for them. Those are my top priorities."
Her life won't be all work. She's also an avid equestrian and a landscaper.
"It will be kind of nice to have time with my horses," she said.
Broers taught for 13 years as a junior high and special needs teacher before becoming an administrator. She has spent the past 28 years in school. She moved to Lawrence in 1986 from Merriam, having taught in the Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley districts prior to moving here.
Locally, she was principal of Cordley School before moving to Sunflower School when it opened in 1994.
During her tenure she has seen developments like the inclusion of special needs students in regular classrooms and the introduction of Quality Performance Accreditation for schools.
But it's her work with individual students that means the most to Broers.
"At Cordley there was such a feeling of community," she said. "When we started inclusion, there was the acceptance and the caring and understanding of people who might be different from yourself, whether in terms of special needs or cultural differences."
She took that same sense of community with her when she went to Sunflower.
"It's a much larger school," she said. "I want it to feel like a home away from home and for each person to feel that they're valued as a person."
Sixth-grade teacher Linda Browning has worked with Broers for 10 years, first as a substitute teacher at Cordley, then as one of the original teachers at Sunflower.
"She's a wonderful person, kind and caring," Browning said. "She really tries to think about what's best for the students."
Browning said students will often stop by Broers' office to share a story or art they have created.
"She's very family-oriented," Browning said. "We are so happy for her but sad for us."
Broers will remain at Sunflower until the end of the year. A search for her replacement will begin as soon as possible.
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.