Edgar “Ed” Houser is saying goodbye.
The Bonita Elementary School District superintendent has decided to retire, 47 years after he first set foot inside a classroom in Willcox.
Looking back on his career, Houser said lately he has been seeing to the needs of the grandchildren of the students he taught.
“Bonita is a great place. It’s been my pleasure to have worked there for as long as I did. It will be something I will always remember very fondly and I wish them the best,” the Willcox resident said.
The Bonita School District is located at the base of Mount Graham near the Coronado National Forest. It’s a district comprised of farm and ranch land roughly 40 miles from Safford and 30 miles from Willcox. It has 10 teachers and every year they have roughly 100 students.
At various points in his career, Houser has taught fourth grade, middle school math and coached high school baseball.
The two things that remained unchanged through his career: The good natures of the children and the dedication and excellence of teachers, he said.
“The kids are great for the most part,” said Houser.
As for changes? Houser mentioned mandatory statewide testing and heightened expectations in terms of third grade reading levels.
“Public educators don’t get the respect they used to get. That said, I am a big supporter of public education,” said Houser.
His family is deeply rooted in education, he said. His father was a professor in a medical school while his mother was a teacher. He was immersed in education his whole life.
During his 20-year term as superintendent for Bonita schools, Houser said the district faced unique financial struggles.
In 2015 Graham County realized it had over-assessed the business NatureSweet in Bonita and had to pay taxes back to the business, Houser said.
As a result, the district had to reduce its budget for roughly two to three years.
“Our staff stuck with us. Salaries were frozen for a couple of years,” said Houser.
Houser said he won’t miss stretching dollars and applying for grants.
Houser lauded the steadfast teachers of Bonita schools. When asked what he was the most proud of regarding his term, he said it was the staff, which he described as accomplished, incredibly professional and dedicated.
Jonathan Thruschke will be taking over Houser’s position in the upcoming school year. Houser said he felt confident in the former superintendent of San Simon’s abilities.
“He’s young and local. A few teachers in Bonita taught him in elementary school. Some of his children will be in Bonita when he starts in August,” Houser said.
Houser started working at the age of nine on a paper route and has never stopped, making the thought of retirement strange to him.
He hopes to travel, visiting family and friends. He plans to take a long road trip to Chicago, Cleveland and North Carolina. Eventually, he wants to volunteer at the Fox Theater in Tucson and spend a lot of his time with his grandchildren.