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Soaking up a career: IPS’s Bushman closing in on retirement

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By Mike Wright

INVERNESS - Marlise Bushman showed up for work one day at Inverness Primary School and hasn’t left.

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That was 35 years ago: second-grade teacher, then curriculum specialist, assistant principal and, in 2003, principal.

But when the final bell on the 2013 school year ends, Bushman’s walk out those school doors will be her last.

Bushman, whose entire career was spent at IPS, is retiring. She is enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP, which requires participants to retire within five years.

“I’m not ready to go,” Bushman said. “When I enrolled in DROP, five years seemed like a long time.”

Bushman and her husband arrived in Citrus County from Pasco County. While previously working in newspaper advertising, Bushman shifted gears toward her own family’s vocation.

“My mom and dad were teachers,” she said. “It’s a family affair.”

A native of St. Petersburg, Bushman attended the University of South Florida and began her teaching career at IPS.

While it’s not unheard of, it is rare to see an educator stick with one school for a career.

“I like what I do here and it’s changed so much,” she said. “I’ve worked for many different administrators. It remains so exciting even as it’s evolved.”

Superintendent of Schools Sandra “Sam” Himmel said Bushman has created a culture of learning at IPS.

“I tell people Marlise grew up at Inverness Primary School,” Himmel said. “With her leadership style, the kids have scored well on tests. She’s brought consistency and a lot of good things to IPS.”

Physical education teacher Terry Flaherty has worked with Bushman at IPS for 22 years.

“She’s a wonderful person,” he said. “Marlise is genuine. She would do anything for anyone.”

It’s been a rough few weeks at IPS, following the sudden and unexpected death March 13 of music teacher Kevin Coward.

“Everyone has Kevin Coward stories,” she said. “That was a hard day. He was here three years, but he left us a special gift of music. He made everyone want to be in chorus.”

Bushman believes in art and music, and said students are more likely to do well in school if they have programs that encourage creativity.

“That’s an important piece of a child’s development,” she said. “For some kids, that’s the gift that keeps them in school.”

Bushman, whose warm smile and hearty laugh come easy, said it’ll be tough walking away from IPS.

“It’s just fun, what we do,” she said. “You pray you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.”

Bushman plans to stay in education, hoping to teach at a college or online university.

“I’m just not ready to be done with it,” she said. “I’ve always thought of that college-level piece: teaching the teachers.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.