Julie Kahle has spent the past three decades years working for the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, first at Wilsonville Primary for 13 years and then at West Linn High School for the past 18 years. But Kahle's ties to West Linn and Wilsonville go much further back than that.
A West Linn High School graduate herself, Kahle has two daughters who attended and graduated from the high school, following the footsteps of Julie's father, Earnest Kahle, who graduated from West Linn High School in 1943. Throw in a couple uncles who graduated from the school district and it's safe to say the Kahle family has left quite a legacy in West Linn-Wilsonville schools.
With stints as an instructional assistant for special education at Wilsonville Primary, a secretary for the special education department at West Linn High for two years, and the head secretary at WLHS for the past 16 years, it's time for Kahle to say goodbye. She's calling it quits after 31 years of service with the school district, but she takes an entire lifetime of memories with her into retirement.
"Thirty-one years is a long time. There's nothing I can say that was a turning point or anything major coming up that made the decision for me. It was more of the thought that after 31 years it's time to move on," Kahle says. "There are some things I would like to do while I'm still healthy and it's just time."
She says it will be strange when the first day of school rolls around Aug. 29 and she won't be at her normal desk to greet students and school administration, but she's also looking forward to the future. She can't help but think back to her time as a student at West Linn High School, where she was a member of the dance and speech teams. She says the school has changed a lot since then, specifically the number of opportunities available to students, but that the school has always been an exciting place to learn.
"I had a wonderful experience in high school. I wanted to get into athletics but when I was going to high school there weren't really girls' sports," she recalls. "That's something that has changed and it's wonderful.
"There are so many different classes that are offered now and so many opportunities to check out where your interests may lie. The ability to find out how you might like something before you head out to college or the workforce is a great attribute of this school district."
Kahle was also the president of the Future Teachers of America Club when she was in high school, a testament to her continued passion for education over the years. She says she enjoyed the chance to work with a mix of young children at Wilsonville Primary and high school students most recently, but arguably her favorite part of her career was the chance to watch her own daughters go through school.
"I got to watch while they were at primary school and it's really special to do that. You watch them working, you watch them sit down and try to figure things out, seeing that they're getting a great education," she says. "You get to see them interact and play with friends, and it was nice to be in the school system, not only helping other people's children but getting to see my own children grow."
Kahlesays she's appreciative of the West Linn-Wilsonville community, too, which has always made education a priority for its students. She points to donations of time and money to the Education Foundation and many other local programs as examples of West Linn and Wilsonville's generosity.
"I truly believe in education and I think that West Linn-Wilsonville School District does an amazing job of educating students and preparing them for the world they're going to enter, whether it's college or the workforce," she says. "I think it's always been something I've appreciated for myself and for my children — that the community supports whatever needs there are with help and money."
While Kahle will have some well-deserved free time now that she's no longer working, she'll keep plenty busy. She lives with her husband on her family's original farm, where she grows red clover and looks to add to the operation in the future. Located on Kahle Road — named after her family — perpendicular to Stafford Road in between West Linn and Wilsonville, her family's address is just another example of the deep ties she has to the community.
"I've lived there my entire life and the farm will continue to keep me busy," Kahle says. "We had sheep up until my father's passing and we're hoping to add filberts in the next two years, so there's always something to do."
She's looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and partaking in her favorite activities on a more routine basis, including hiking in the Columbia Gorge. She also plans to travel to Germany in 2020 to participate in the traditional Passion Play, vacationing across Europe afterwards. She'll stay active in retirement, but she admits she'll miss seeing students every .
"I really love everyone I work with. They're just really nice people and that's what I'm going to miss," Kahle says. "If anyone here needs something, everyone steps in to help one another. They care about what happens to one another, even in their private lives, and you don't always find that in the workforce. There's just genuine care for everyone, and I honestly feel very fortunate that I was able to work in this district and be part of that."