After an almost 30 year run in the St. Maries School District, student support and ASB Advisor, Kristi Payne is calling 2021 her last year as an educator.

Payne has been with the St. Maries School District since 1994 and started off as a paraprofessional at the Heyburn Elementary working with pre-school aged children. She had previously been a stay-at-home mom and ran a day care out of her home while her husband, Doug Payne, was in law school.

She said after 14 years working at the Heyburn she moved to working as student support for students at the district’s alternative school and as the ASB advisor at the high school.

“I’m the lucky one honestly, it’s been a pleasure to work with these kids, and I’ll miss the kids the most,” Payne said.

Payne’s presence in the community has not gone unnoticed as she has been seen organizing and assisting with activities for high school students consistently for the last several years. She has helped with multiple homecoming events, the Halloween Trunk-or-Treat, Brawl for the Ball and much more.

Payne has also helped with multiple community projects outside of the school district including work and maintenance on the Logger’s Memorial. She said that her and Doug will still find time during their retirement to fund-raise and care for the memorial.

She said that she is grateful for the school district to have given her the opportunity and that her career made it easy for her to not just be involved with the community’s children but her own as well.

“During those early years I had the same schedule my children did, and that was a bonus of working with the district,” Payne said. “It enabled me to be able to go to their sporting events and more. I think the school schedule is attractive to moms because of that.”

She said there have been many moments that she’s cherished with students during her career. She still has encounters with past students she had over the years who are sure to stop and talk to her whenever she is at the store or a community event.

She said her favorite memories are seeing her students each year reach the biggest goal in their high school career.

“My favorite moments are from each graduation,” she said. “You cry because you’ve seen the kids go through all of that and make it.”

Payne said now was the right time to retire as her husband Doug is also set to retire this year. The two plan to spend more time doing things together.

“I was just fortunate to able to do what I did for as long as I did,” Payne said. “Doug and my jobs were very fulfilling.”

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