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Teaching sisters retire

"After a 30-year teaching career at Coupeville Elementary School, Cheryl Engle is ready to graduate - to retirement.Sort of.I'm going to take a short hiatus. Then I'm going to go back to work. I don't know what I'm going to do yet, said Engle late last week as friends, coworkers and students, past and present, threw her a farewell reception and dinner.Meanwhile, not far away at Oak Harbor Elementary School, Engle's sister Sara Purdue announced that she too will be retiring from teaching this week after 31 years in the classroom. Engle, who grew up in Coupeville, said she was fresh out of college in 1968 when she got a call from the district's then superintendent.The superintendent said, 'I'd like to send you a contract,' and I said, 'I'd like to sign it,' Engle remarked about her first assignment at the elementary school. Other than the year she took off to give birth to a daughter, Engle has been a fixture at the school ever since. When I started teaching there were four classrooms. My mom was the kindergarten teacher and my aunt was the third-grade teacher, said Engle, who was born a Sherman and married an Engle, two of Central Whidbey's oldest families. She's been teaching first grade nearly all her career. I love it. I love to see the growth a first grader makes. They go so far.Engle said that there has never been a doubt about retirement.I always said that when I had 30 years I was going to step down so younger teachers could have a job, she said.Engle's sister Sara Purdue began teaching in Seattle but returned to Whidbey and the Oak Harbor School District in 1968. She has taught second grade primarily but has also taught third and fourth graders and in the elementary gifted program.I didn't really know I was going to retire, Purdue said this week. But she has a good opportunity to travel for a while with her son, so she made the move.Like her sister, Purdue said retirement may be brief.I may volunteer or sub. I know I'll do something where I can work with children, she said.Thirty-plus years in the profession is a long time, but Purdue said she still finds fun and play in her work.It's really been wonderful, she said. When I came here I thought I was the new kid and I still feel like the new kid.Of her sister, Purdue said Engle is one of the best.She's been a loving teacher, I know that, she said. She taught my daughter."

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