"Walnut has always been home," said Nancy Palumbo, a seventh-grade math teacher at Walnut Springs Middle School who will be leaving the schools and entering retirement at the end of the school year.
During her 35 years working in the Westerville City School District, she has moved and educated students at nearly all the middle schools in the district. She taught at Blendon, Walnut Springs and Heritage and finishes her career at Walnut Springs this year.
For Palumbo, Walnut Springs is a special place. Not only has she spent 23 years of her career there, it is also where she met her husband.
Pat Palumbo, now retired, taught seventh-grade science at Walnut Springs and is now the assistant basketball coach and baseball coach at Westerville South High School.
During their shared time at Walnut Springs, Nancy said it was fun for them to have the same students in their classes.
"The kids would send messages back and forth," she said. "It was really cute."
Leslie Kelly, principal at Walnut Springs, sent an email to parents about Palumbo's retirement. Kelly said she received dozens of responses from former parents and students with warm regards for Palumbo.
"Nancy has been a community staple," Kelly said. "She doesn't just make an impact on this generation, but for many generations."
Palumbo dedicated her life to students in Westerville and future middle school students and educators. Outside the classroom, she was involved with National Middle School through Otterbein University. She helped Otterbein establish and offer a middle school education certification.
"At one point in the early '90s, you didn't have a middle school program," Palumbo said. "Otterbein was one of the first universities to get a middle school education (certificate)."
She also helped create student-lead conferences in the district, which she cites as her biggest accomplishment.
"That's a good feeling," Palumbo said.
She has taught approximately 130 kids each year and educated more than 4,500 students in the district, she said. This year, she was recognized for her work with the Battelle for Kids Celebrating Teachers Award.
Though she is excited about retirement, she said she will miss aspects of the schools.
"(I will miss) the kids. Definitely the kids and teaching," she said. "It has changed so much now because of state standards and the testing. That drives me crazy. I just like to have my classroom and my kids."
After spending 35 years in the district, she plans spending her retirement leisurely.
"I want to be an L.O.L. -- a Lady of Leisure," she said. "It's going to be weird not to have the structure, but to be able to do things when I want to do them. It will be nice not to be on a tight schedule."
Her last day of scheduled classes is Friday, May 23.