After more than 30 years at West Delaware Schools, Darla Gaskill is retiring at the end of this school year.
Gaskill teaches English and speech classes and coaches the high school speech teams.
"She's done a lot for the speech team, and she's really made the West Delaware Speech Team known around the state," said student Taylor Klostermann. "It just has a lot of good things going for it."
Gaskill's husband retired two years ago from teaching in another school district. They both hope to spend more time with their six grandchildren.
"One of the promises I made early in my career is to quit when I still enjoyed my job so my students wouldn't hate me as their teacher," said Darla Gaskill.
Gaskill planned to be an elementary teacher but switched to speech when she got inspired by one of her theater professors at Upper Iowa University.
Gaskill's goal was for all students to feel welcome on the team because she said speech showcases a variety of student talents.
"There's 105 people on the speech team so we try to make sure everyone gets an opportunity in some way to be part of the program," she said. "Nobody gets cuts from the team and let go."
The West Delaware students compete in group and individual speech. This year, more than 80 percent of the students making it to state earned the highest rating possible.
Students said Gaskill changed their high school experience and their lives.
"Definitely much more outgoing," said Brady Carnahan. "In middle school, I was the kid who didn't talk much, and I joined speech and made more friends."
Even though she's retiring, Gaskill will still be around. She hopes to volunteer part-time at the high school next year.
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