More time for family

Gijanto retiring to visit family, travel



Although Kristie Gijanto is regularly in charge of more than 300 students, it was only one child who prompted her to contemplate retiring.

“Grandchild number four is on the way so my grandkids decided it for me,” Gijanto said Friday.

The principal at Mary J. Tanner Primary School since 1999, Gijanto said it was having family in the west and the grandchild on the way in February that drove the decision to retire at the end of the school year.

“I have two kids and two sisters, one in Oregon and one in Arizona, and we have four kids on the East Coast from Maine to Ithaca. We’re going to travel and visit family, we’ll be spending a lot more time with them now,” she said.

“This will allow us more time to go back and forth,” she said. Gijanto, and husband Jack a retired barber, plan to move around possibly seeing the sites with a recreational vehicle. 

Gijanto said Mary J. Tanner was a great place to finish a career in education.

“It’s been a great place to work and I just love working with this age group…they’re always so eager to learn,” Gijanto said.

Gijanto credits everyone she works with for making her time at the school run smoothly from teachers and staff to a very enthusiastic and supportive community group of parents. Over the interceding 12 years Gijanto said she has seen a tremendous amount of change perhaps symbolized best by the Pre-K students who are working with i-Pads.

“There has been a lot of technical growth that I’m very excited about; every class is equipped with a smart board,” she said.

With those boards the students have had a chance to see everything from the rain forest to the Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska.

“I’ve always tried to bring the world to them and technology made that possible,” she said.

The MJT building project started just after her arrival and Gijanto said “, it transformed the school into a wonderful place.” 

“It’s been a wonderful experience for me,” she said.

Looking back Gijanto said getting the pre-kindergarten program started will be one of the things she is most pleased with during her time at the school.

Among the programs and milestones which are her favorites, Gijanto said ‘Bringing Books to Life’ has always been a favorite.

As a part of the school’s literacy effort Gijanto reads books to the students in the library often with props or costumes that help illustrate the story.

On the artistic front, Gijanto said she will always remember the legacy projects. As a part of the projects students and volunteers often led by a visiting artist, paint floor to ceiling mural in eye-poppingly bright colors featuring various nature themes such as the rain forest or the ocean.

Gijanto said the kids who are aware of the change are comfortable with it. As the year goes on she said she plans to gradually let the kids know what it taking place during times when they can ask and she can answer questions.

“I just tell them I’m leaving to go spend more time as a Grandma and they can relate,” Gijanto said.



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