Platte County R-3 seems set on going through a process to come up with the name for a new elementary school building using public input. I probably won’t dissuade them here, but the whole process seems a little bit unnecessary. I’m not sure why we don’t skip the formalities, announce Tina Zubeck Elementary as the winner and move forward knowing the best decision has been made.
I like to avoid being reactionary, and I detest hyperbole. The decision shouldn’t be taken lightly.
After all, there’s nothing worse than regret when naming a building, street, etc. You never want to bestow a title only to experience regret down the road if the honoree becomes involved in scandal or brings unwanted attention.
This just simply wouldn’t be the case with Tina Zubeck, unless you count loving George Strait’s music too much as a crime.
Most of you probably already know the story, but for the sake of due diligence, we can review a bit here. Tina Zubeck died in August of 2014, losing a second battle with cancer. She was just 55 years old and clearly had so much more to give.
For nearly three decades, Zubeck established a reputation as a hard-working, dedicated mother who counted many more children than just her own three as part of her family. I like to think I can include myself in that group, having known and respected her for years while growing up as a classmate of Bobby Zubeck in the Platte County School District.
Zubeck worked for the district for 24 years, only forced to retire following the 2013-14 school year when the effects of Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) — a type of cancer in which bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells — made the decision for her. She started as an assistant accountant and administrative assistant. She grew into the district’s first school-community relations coordinator.
Originally, the Parent Teacher Association served as the outlet for her fervor toward education.
That would never be enough, and Zubeck created her own distinguished career because it’s what she wanted to do. A diagnosis of lymphoma in 1997 didn’t stop her, and she went into remission in 2001, but cancer returned just more than a decade later.
Doctors told her the MDS could have been brought on by the previous cancer treatments that helped win the first battle.
Life can be cruel.
Those who worked with Zubeck, those who loved Zubeck have not allowed her memory to fade one bit in the short time since her death. A scholarship was established in her honor. An award has been named after her. She went into the Pirate Hall of Fame.
Naming the district’s newest building after Tina Zubeck seems an obvious next logical step.
I can’t think of a better way to keep an important memory alive. Use the name on the side of the building as a reminder; use a plaque on the yet-to-be built wall just inside the main door to this new building to tell Tina Zubeck’s story.
Children in the district, their parents, employees can all benefit from knowing who Tina Zubeck was and what she stood for during her too-brief life. I say that knowing full well she accomplished more in 55 years than I could probably hope to do in 155.
That’s why I believe in this cause.
Apologies to many other deserving candidates out there, but all other suggestions won’t live up to this one. Hopefully, the board of education agrees, and Tina Zubeck’s name will continue to find a permanent place in the history of the Platte County R-3 School District.
While we are on the topic, Platte County might be interested in finding a place to honor Jan Patterson.
You can read plenty more of her story starting on page A1, but if you plan to complete the article, you might want to get a snack and/or refreshment. This one is long.
But after 36 years of teaching in the Platte County School District, the article seemed appropriate.
That’s why as R-3 continues to expand and more buildings and renovations become necessary, I’d be looking for a chance to name a gym or fieldhouse after Patterson. The reason is simple: no one will ever have a bigger impact on girls sports in this district.
Maybe I’m too enamored with history and honoring deserving figures. I just really like the idea of naming places after those who should be remembered. I can’t be the only one who enjoys a good dose of nostalgia.
Patterson should be remembered. She taught and coached for 36 years. When she started in 1979, Title IX had only been passed seven years earlier. She’s been a part of the growth that includes the addition of softball, cross country, soccer, golf, tennis and swimming at the school.
That’s what made her story so important to me, and why I felt the need to tell it in such long form this week. I really hope you will read it and reflect on a huge asset to this community for more than three decades.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.