Connie Renz retired from the KP News Publishing Board after joining the staff as a volunteer more than 15 years ago.
Connie and Vic, her husband of nearly 54 years, moved to the Key Peninsula in 2003. “We moved to find a ‘flat house’ for my really bad knees and some property for our three greyhounds,” she said. “We ended up with an acre of grass with a 6-foot fence around it.”
Soon after arriving, she met Danna Webster at the Easterseals Camp Stand By Me pool. “I was looking for something to do after 32 years of teaching,” Connie said. “Danna put me in touch with Rodika Tollefson, editor of the KP News at the time.”
Immediately put to work, Connie cleared file cabinets, archived the old papers, proofread and wrote an occasional article. Within a few months she was in charge of subscriptions. In 2006 she and her husband joined the distribution team, helping first with bagging and then later taking over the logistics and financial aspects of getting the paper out. By 2008 she was appointed as the community pages editor for the newspaper until the KP News launched its online calendar (keypennews.org/events) in 2017. She joined the Publishing Board in 2013 and served as secretary until she retired.
Connie mentored grade-schoolers in math and reading for a dozen years. She has worked at Minter and Vaughn Elementary Schools and now serves as a math mentor for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Purdy. Both she and Vic have been honored as Mentor of the Month by Communities in Schools of Peninsula.
Active in Friends of the Library for several years, Connie served as treasurer and organized their book sale.
Connie and Vic’s then 6-year-old son started playing when the family was living in Spokane. “We coached our son’s soccer team even though we knew nothing about the sport. I would take the kids into my classroom to show them movies about how to play, and Vic worked with them on the physical skills,” she said.
Years later when their son was recruited to play for teams in western Washington, he and Vic moved to Federal Way. Their daughter finished middle school and then also moved west with her dad and brother. For the next four years Connie continued to teach in the Spokane area, driving to Federal Way each weekend.
“One October Friday afternoon in 1984, I decided maybe I could get a job on the west side of the Cascades. I found some teacher-wanted ads the week before Halloween, went to one interview on Friday, was hired within a couple hours, drove back to Spokane on Saturday, loaded my car up with all my personal teaching stuff, left a goodbye note for the fourth-graders, and drove back to Federal Way in time for Halloween.”
Connie spent the next 12 years teaching in Buckley, first as a fourth-grade teacher and then teaching math to all primary grades. “My favorite teaching memory is the kindergarteners at Mountain Meadow who called me ‘Mrs. Parallelogram’ forever after learning the correct name for that shape,” she said. Many of those students are now Facebook friends; she has been invited to their weddings and gets their birth announcements.
“By far the best reward is our two children. They both graduated college with honors and both have had the same job for more than 25 years. They have won awards and they are both excellent parents. We are very proud of them and our five grandkids and now our great-granddaughter, too. I’m glad we had the time and resources to travel so much—first tent-camping and later in our RVs—with our kids and grandchildren.”
Remembering her time with the paper, her teaching career and her family, Connie said, “This helps me realize that I’ve had overall an amazing life so far.”