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Members of the community and former colleagues gathered at Milton Elementary School on Wednesday evening to wish J.W. Sachleben a happy retirement.
Sachleben, a former teacher, principal and superintendent in Trimble County Schools, resigned earlier this month from his seat on the Board of Education.
An emotional Scott Burrows spoke about his relationship with Sachleben, which began when Burrows was in high school.
“Everything I know about numbers, I learned from this man,” Burrows said, gesturing to Sachleben. “I owe him a tremendous amount of gratitude. I’m sad to see him go; I thought he was going to be here forever. I really did.”
Burrows, who also serves on the school board, said Sachleben was kind while a math teacher at Trimble County High School. “Many of my male teachers wanted to beat me, and did. Mr. Sachleben probably wanted to beat me, but he inspired me instead.”
Kim Temple said she was unsure of what to expect when she first was elected to the board. She found the board “exists as a family,” and attributed that to Sachleben.
“I feel Mr. Sachleben has molded you into this family by his years of wisdom and knowledge,” she said. To Sachleben she added, “I believe you’re not at an ending, but at a new beginning, a new path.”
Board member Tom Cook, who took algebra and geometry with Sachleben in the 1960s. “He had a gift, as he talked about how to do things [in math]. He made me grow, as far as what I thought about mathematics. He really instilled math into me, growing up.”
“I really feel humbled,” Sachleben responded. “I really, really have been blessed in this county; blessed with great people to work with.”
He admonished his former colleagues to continue their good work for the school district.
“The future of a community is its schools, and we have four great schools and two new buildings,” he said. “The decisions you make, you have to make them for that time.”
The district at this time probably won’t see a new high school in its future, as building a new one could cost more than $25 million. But with updates, it is adequate for the county’s needs. “Under Marcia’s leadership,” he said, referring to Superintendent Marcia Haney-Dunaway, “you can get [the renovations] done.”
He added: “I’m grateful to the county for electing me [to the board]. It’s not tremendous pay, but you can have a big influence in the community. I thank you.”