A longtime educator has retired after 16 years of preparing Bayfield's youngest students for kindergarten and beyond.
On Sunday, Carol Blatnick, director of Bayfield Early Education Program, Blatnick gave credit for the school's success to its long-time teachers, staff and its volunteer board.
While the staff worked hard at educating students, "I was just the conductor of the orchestra," Blatnick said at an open house at the school on Sunday, attended by dozens of parents, family members, former students and staff members.
Prior to starting at BEEP, Blatnick taught at Bayfield High School. She also has served on the Bayfield School District's Board of Education and the Bayfield Town Board.
Blatnick oversaw the preschool's growth to four classrooms and also worked hard during the construction of the preschool building in 2010, said Jackie Morlan, who helped start the school in 1995. The school was housed in a church basement and various Bayfield school buildings until the permanent home was built on Fox Farm Circle, near Bayfield Elementary School.
Blatnick worked to accommodate all children at BEEP, including those with special needs, said Patrick Callahan, who works with special education students in the area.
"She always welcomed the kids who need to come to school," he said.
The outdoing director received a quilt with the school's logo on it Sunday, along with a superhero cape of yellow and blue, the school's colors.
Blatnick is being replaced by Joe Poynter, who has been the director of early education programs in Denver and Albuquerque. He is also a fellow with the Children's Defense Fund, a national advocacy group for child education and health. He was the coordinator of the Southern Ute Early Head Start Program for 10 years in Ignacio.
"Having been semi-retired for a little while, and missing the children, I decided to apply for the empty position left by Carol at BEEP," he wrote in a biography that is on the preschool's website. "Happy that the Board decided to hire me and I appreciate everyone's trust."