Behind the scenes

Transportation director, school psychologist look to retirement

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— Marj Kelton became a school bus driver 25 years ago as a way to keep in touch with what was going on in Steamboat Springs' public schools, which two of her sons attended.

But long after her sons graduated, Kelton still found herself driving buses.

"I was going to quit every year," she said Friday from her office at the district's transportation center. "Then, about August of every year, (the district) would call."

After years of coming back for more, Kelton was named the district's transportation director in 1995, a position she held until Friday, when her retirement became official.

The transition from driver to director wasn't easy, she said.

"It was a hard jump for me," Kelton said. "But the drivers helped me a lot. It was hard going from being friends with the other bus drivers for 17 years to becoming their boss."

Her personality helped the adjustment, she said.

"You have to be a people person, and that's where I've been lucky," Kelton said, smiling.

Her duties as transportation director included scheduling all buses and drivers, overseeing continual safety training and working closely with each district school.

It's a job she'll miss, but a July trip to Ireland and a January trip to Hawaii likely will help the transition to retirement.

"I think change is always hard and a little bit scary," Kelton said. "But it's a new way of life. I'm anxious. I would imagine it will take a while to get adjusted."

Kelton still lives on the ranch she and her husband bought in 1977 when the family moved to Steamboat Springs from Idaho. Her son and his family live on the ranch, too.

"It's a perfect way of life for kids out there," she said of ranch life. "(My son) wants to raise his boys like he was raised."

Kelton said she's proud of the quality of the district's transportation system, which she said is one of the tops in the state. It wasn't too long ago, Kelton said, that the state was threatening the transportation center with citations and closure.

But a new facility that opened in 1996 and dedicated, caring drivers have made all the difference, she said.

"We have wonderful drivers. They care so much about the kids," Kelton said. "I'm going to miss all the drivers. They're great friends."

Ed Dingledine, a Jefferson County School District employee, was hired as Kelton's replacement. Kelton said she will help Dingledine in his new position.

Ray Koch

For the past couple of weeks, Ray Koch hasn't set an alarm clock.

He prefers to let his eyes "flutter open" at a time of their choosing. Koch wouldn't want retirement any other way.

"I want a couple years of just relaxing and traveling," said Koch, who retired this month after 30 years as a psychologist in area schools.

Koch came to Steamboat from Kansas 30 years ago to begin a job in the relatively new field of school psychology.

Three decades later, Koch said it's surprising how many of the problems today's children face are identical to the problems faced by previous generations.

As a school psychologist, Koch and others perform counseling, psychological evaluations, design educational programs for special-needs students and consulting work with school districts.

Though he has operated a private psychotherapy practice in Steamboat in addition to his work with schools, Koch said he enjoys working with children most.

"School psychology I liked because it seemed to me you could make a greater impact on students, and I liked working with younger people," Koch said.

Koch was a Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services employee, not a Steamboat Springs School District employee. But for the past 18 years, Koch worked solely in Steamboat schools.

Koch enjoyed using humor into his work, and he liked working with families and parents, too. And reflecting back on his career, he said he has no regrets.

"I think you always feel like you could have done more, but I don't think I would have done anything differently," he said.

Koch looks forward to traveling, particularly a September trip to Italy with his wife, Jean, who this year retired from her position as art teacher at Soda Creek Elementary School.

But he will miss his colleagues.

"I worked with outstanding, fantastic, dedicated people," Koch said. "It's a great staff. I just felt like 30 years was enough. I'd like to explore some other avenues in my life."

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