The teaching profession is one where educators make a difference in the lives of students.
For over a dozen teachers, the 2016-2017 school year was their swan song as they transition into retirement.
Each retiree in attendance at the annual ceremony sponsored by the Bullitt County Retired Teachers Association and Bullitt County Public Schools was recognized for their contributions to education.
Bernheim Middle School Principal Katie Stephens said she attempted in vain to talk Victoria Wright from departing her Language Arts position.
“Out of all teachers I have worked with over the years, few compare to the outstanding efforts Mrs. Wright makes every day,” Stephens praised. “She will be greatly missed.”
Eastside Middle School Principal Troy Wood decided to play a little music for one of his retirees.
As Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel was heard, the table with Cecilia Hardin, better known as ‘Kathy’ to her family and colleagues, was encircled with joy.
“I will miss Kathy as a co-worker and as a good friend,” Wood said.
This was Freedom Elementary School Principal Matt Treadway’s first year at the facility and he recalled a story from one of his first year educators.
“She was getting settled in her class and told me about being very nervous for the year to start when Debbie McHolland walked in and said ‘Hey, girl, welcome to Freedom!’ From that moment on, Mrs. Fluharty felt right at home.”
Mrs. McHolland’s mother, Joyce Manning, was present at the ceremony to see her daughter feted with gifts such a citations from Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie J. Roberts; 26th District State Rep. Russell Webber; 49th District State Representative Dan Johnson; 53rd District State Representative James Tipton; 38th District State Senator Dan "Malano" Seum; a gift bag from the Bullitt County Retired Teachers Association; and an engraved brass school bell from Bullitt County Public Schools Superintendent Keith Davis.
Lebanon Junction Elementary School Principal Patrick Durham introduced Lindy Meyer who has invested 33 years in education.
Mrs. Meyer gave her whole lifetime to teaching and I sincerely hope she enjoys a happy retirement,” he said. As Meyer collected her gifts, she rang her retirement bell LOUDLY!
Pleasant Grove Elementary School Principal Melissa Whicker is losing a pair of veteran educators.
“To see who I consider one of the best kindergarten teachers on the planet depart is a very bittersweet feeling,” Whicker spoke of Jennifer Crumbacker. “There will never be anyone like her again.”
As Crumbacker accepted her retirement gifts, her mother, Jo Ann Barr, beamed proudly. Mrs. Barr retired from being Cedar Grove Elementary School Principal and BCPS Director of Elementary Education.
Whicker also honored Janet Haynes who worked hard in the classroom but also inspired her students to think of the community.
“Mrs. Haynes is our organizer of charitable events and always went the extra mile to make the Pleasant Grove community a better place,” Whicker said.
Zoneton Middle School Interim Principal Ann Ford saw the most faculty retirees.
“Sandra Bayens is the kind of educator every administrator hopes to work with because she is truly dedicated,” Ford said. “So much so that she is the first one at school and always the last one to leave. In fact, evening sweepers have informed her that it was time to go home for the day!”
In similar context, James Kevin Downs is a role model for aspiring educators and had no plans to stay idle in retirement.
“Mr. Downs is very well-liked, admired and respected by both students and fellow staff,” Ford said. “When asked what he was going to do in retirement, he stated, ‘Get up each day at 5:00 a.m. and do yoga.’”
Scotland native Dorothy Zavala brought culture to her classroom along with a charming accent.
“Any time you speak with Mrs. Zavala, you immediately feel warmth from her Scottish accent,” Ford said. “Her philosophy of teaching and classroom management ensure all of her students are loved and appreciated.”
Other retiring teachers who were not present at the ceremony include Kathy Hutchinson and Christine Mitchell of Cedar Grove; Ted Hightower of Eastside Middle School; Marsha Nadeau of Mt. Washington Middle School; and Kathy McCarty of Old Mill Elementary School.