By Olivia Harnack
Whitman County Gazette 

Palouse teacher retires after 39 years


PALOUSE — Friday, June 10, marks the last day of school for the Palouse School District and the last day of teaching for local Chris Bofenkamp.

“It’s already been emotional. All year, I have been very intentional about enjoying everything I do,” Bofenkamp said. “There is just so much I am going to miss.”

Bofenkamp has worked at the elementary school 39 years. She spent most of the time educating kindergartners.

She had a brief stint working with preschoolers and most recently, first-graders.

Bofenkamp graduated in 1981 from University of Idaho and started her first teaching job in Palouse in 1983.

“Children are just so fun and joyful,” she said. “Watching them learn new things is wonderful and seeing them do things they’ve never done before has been my most joyful memory.”

Bofenkamp is retiring only two years after her husband, John Bofenkamp, retired from Palouse schools.

“We just want to spend more time with our grandkids and travel,” she said.

The district is hosting an open house for Bofenkamp from 1-3 p.m., Friday, June 3.

“Hopefully, I can keep my eyes dry,” Bofenkamp added when mentioning the event. “I have had a wonderful career.

“The students and families are just tremendous. I have had a lot of students that grow up and have kids of their own. It’s a really unique thing for small towns.

“It’s a fun thing to teach kids. In Palouse, you get to watch kids grow up and teach their children.”

Bofenkamp said that for the last few days of school, her class has taken up the annual tradition of a 10-day countdown, popping a balloon each day and completing an activity on a note inside the balloon.

“Most of the kids know that I am retiring and I think they are up to something,” she said. “But, we have been doing a lot of fun things. We have an ice cream field trip and outdoor field day planned.”

The Bofenkamps have resided here almost 40 years and raised three children of their own.

“I hope the next person takes time to enjoy every day in that job because it goes by fast,” she said. “If you love what love the kids, and the people, you’ll love what you do.”

Author Bio

Olivia Harnack, Editorial Intern

Olivia Harnack is the Editorial Intern and Journalist at the Whitman County Gazette. Olivia is enrolled at College for Creative Studies (Detroit, Mi.,) and is majoring in digital film studies. Olivia has previously worked with companies and organizations like TEDX, Keller Williams, and several directorial film agencies where she assisted on film sets. Olivia is in the process of enlisting in the Army National Guard and is eager to serve Whitman County.

Email: [email protected]


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