Retirees from Surry County Schools gathered at Cross Creek Country Club for a celebration of their many years of service — a combined 734 years of experience in Surry County Schools among the 35 dedicated employees.
Sexton Earlie Coe, chairman of the Surry County Schools Board of Education, welcomed those gathered to celebrate retirees, which included spouses, family members, supportive employees and administrators, and the school board.
“This is a bittersweet moment…it has been a pleasure to have you as a part of Surry County Schools. You are part of a family that goes on and on. We aren’t going to bid you goodbye, we will say ‘see you later,’ because we want you to always be a part of our family. We are so glad to have you and honor you in this way; you deserve every bit of it,” said Coe, as he expressed his appreciation for the employees who are embarking on a new phase of their lives.
The Hollywood-themed retirement celebration included entertainment by Gentry Middle School’s Patriot Ensemble and Drama Club, led by Director Susan Gentry, who is retiring after 31 years with Surry County.
Pam Parker, exceptional children’s teacher at Gentry Middle School, also served as director for the Drama Club. Parker is retiring after 26 years with Surry County Schools.
Included in the entertainment portion were selections from “American Pop Forever” and “Oklahoma.” An ensemble member led the room in a moment of silence for Oklahoma tornado victims before the musical selection.
Retired Surry County Schools’ principal and educator Terry Marcum offered retirees humorous advice, as well as a few tips on how to decide if it is time to retire. “When simple changes rocked my world, I knew it was time to retire. They changed the order of the mailboxes…I’m still trying to find my mail…when you use a seating chart and name tags all year long…when you remember black chalkboards and green chalkboards…when you are in education twice as long as new teachers have been alive…when your previous students become parents and grandparents.”
Marcum gave a few details of her long career in education, including working for two school districts, six different superintendents, 22 schools and 32 principals. The entire room was filled with laughter as Marcum expressed her feelings about retirement.
Marcum said she hoped she had touched the lives of those she met along the way, including students and colleagues. She told retirees to always “think of all the joys and blessings” they have experienced along the way. “Find your own ritz, and put it on baby,” Marcum exclaimed.
Brian Gates, vice chairman of the board of education, announced the names of each retiree, giving details about their years of service. The retirees were given a “small token of appreciation” and congratulated by board members, Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Charles Graham.
Reeves asked the retirees to think about how “life is precious” and said he was “honored and humbled to be speaking” to retirees as they gathered to “celebrate what you meant to students, your school, and other employees.”
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Surry County Schools has a vision that starts with the board, goes throughout the schools, and is carried out by employees. It takes everyone working together…it may be mind boggling some days, but look at what parents are entrusting us with,” as he gestured to the Gentry Middle School students.
“It’s the student plus two…it’s the student, plus the parents and community. The roots of Surry County Schools run deep in this community…we want to honor the impact you made in the community. Thank you to your families, spouses and children for sharing you with us.”
Reeves also thanked Sonia Dickerson and the staff who helped coordinate the retirement celebration.
“Surry County Schools employees, you set the bar really high, and isn’t that what our kids deserve?”
The answer was a resounding “Yes!”
Surry County School System 2012 retirees were (number indicates years of service with SCS): Judy Absher, 23 years; Bronwyn Belcher, 33 years; Mildred Berrier, 11 years; Clinton Chilton, 15 years; Shirley Clement, 20 years; Charlene Coe, 27 years; Sherri Collins, 36 years; Rebecca Cook, 5 years; Mary Cowles, 23 years; Barbara Davis, 14 years; Brenda Davis, 12 years; Janice Davis, 30 years; Terry Denny, 28 years; Rebekah Dobson-Williams, 35 years; Doris East, 19 years; Susan Gentry, 31 years; Sharon Hardy, 19 years; David Hayes, 16 years; Deborah Hayes, 21 years; Barbara Hill, 27 years; Ashley Hinson Jr., 9 years; Brenda Joyce, 21 years; Barbara Key, 34 years; Peggy Moore, 10 years; Pam Parker, 26 years; Joseph Portis, 28 years; Nancy Potter, 11 years; Thomas Ratledge, 19 years; Clark Reece, 6 years; George Spolarich, 12 years; Paulette Surratt, 29 years; Kathy Sutphin, 33 years; Frances Vaughn, 19 years; Judy Vernon, 17 years; Lorraine Wilson, 15 years.