In 1973, Ken and Sally Hartman graduated from college together. For 40 years, they worked together. And this spring, they will retire together, after giving two lifetimes of service to the students of Trinity Lutheran School.
Ken is the school's principal, and his wife, Sally, is a third-grade teacher in the building.
A retirement party and celebration dinner is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Sunday in the school's old gym at 803 Swifts Highway.
Back-of-the-envelope calculations reveal they've probably taught about 1,400 students over the years and greeted students' smiling faces about 12,700 times.
Sally has been at the school 33 years, seven less than her husband because she stayed at home with their children. But during her tenure, she has only taught the third grade.
"I'm either in a rut or I'm experienced at what I do," she said.
Incidentally, she was a third-grader herself when she decided to teach.
"Third-graders are still young enough to love school and respect the teacher, and yet you don't have to do as much for them. It's truly the perfect age," she said.
Her husband taught the sixth grade for one year, the fifth grade for 24 years and became principal 15 years ago.
Over the years, he's learned to-do lists are often futile, but that lack of predictability is also why he enjoyed the job.
"I can truthfully tell you that every day is different, and I spend my day engaged in all kinds of different activities," he said.
Despite his positive experience at Trinity, Ken said he's prepared to retire. From now on, he's planning on majoring in the Three G's: grandchildren, golf and gigging. (Well, OK,
They plan on moving to St. Charles to be closer to their three grandchildren, 7-year-old Grace, 4-year-old Olivia and an infant girl due in June.
After living in their current Jefferson City home 14 years, they've bought a new house, but are not relishing the idea of moving their furnishings, some of which haven't been unpacked from the last move.
"We've trimmed it down considerably," Ken said.
Working together every day has been a great experience for the couple.
"Sometimes we come in separate cars, but we try to eat lunch together every day," Sally said. "I can't imagine not working with my husband."
Although the couple clearly are pillars of the Lutheran congregation, news of their move didn't take other parishioners, educators and parents by surprise.
"People knew it was what we wanted," Ken said. "But some have asked: "Can't you just be here one more year?'"
Ken said students benefit from parochial school.
"I think kids get another component to their education - the spiritual foundation. If there is a concern or a problem, you can pray as a group," he said.
Sally hopes to volunteer at her grandaughters' school and serve as a babysitter when needed.
The Hartmans said they will miss Trinity Lutheran. But the idea they no longer will be there daily hasn't sunk in yet.
"It is bittersweet," Sally said. "I think it will really hit in July when Walmart starts putting supplies up for sale, and we won't have any reason to buy them. And when there are no teacher meetings in August, that's when it will sink in."
Their years at Trinity Lutheran have been a blessing.
"It's basically like a family," Sally said. "We are privileged to see the kids learn, watch them grow, get married and have children of their own. Today, I'm teaching some of my former students' children."
The couple has trips planned to Hawaii this summer and New England this fall.