Retiring school staff say bye

By Jeff Linville -

Surry County Schools recently held a retirement banquet in honor of all the employees who are retiring from its 19 campuses and central office.

Surry County Schools

DOBSON — Surry County Schools recently thanked its retiring teachers and staff members for their years of service.

Sonia Dickerson, director of communications, and the central office staff compiled a short paragraph on each of this year’s retirees. Here are their descriptions.

• Vickie Bryant is retiring from East Surry High School with 25 years in School Nutrition. Everyone knows Mrs. Bryant always loves the kids – she wanted them to eat healthy meals and enjoy their time in the cafeteria – she made each day happy because she loves to pick around and have fun.

• Judy Burton retired in August with 21 years as a teaching assistant retiring from Dobson Elementary. Since retiring, she has enjoyed spending time with her family and traveling. She loves going to the beach. She is now working part-time at Reeves Community Center in the after-school day care. Soon, she will be going to Hawaii with her brother.

• Marie Cannon, retiring from Westfield Elementary as a teacher with 25 years. Mrs. Canon is eagerly waiting for her vacation to China. Her daughter, Kristin, is working in Beijing, teaching chemistry to high school students. She will be going to the Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City and then onto the terracotta warriors. Later, she will go to Inner Mongolia for deserts and the land of Ghenghis Khan. Then she is headed to Anchorage, Alaska. She won’t even realize that she has retired until August when a new school year begins.

• Don Childress retired in October with 6 years. Don worked as the SCS mail courier and custodian for the Central Office. Mr. Don was always pleasant and shared a smile with everyone. Around the office, he was most popular for his sense of humor and his singing abilities. The schools always looked forward to seeing him because he always had said something funny to entertain them.

• Melinda Cornett, has 19 years of service. She is retiring from Dobson Elementary as a teaching assistant.

• Betty Covington retired in December with 29 years. Betty Covington established the Pre-K program in Surry County as a model for the state. She was a true child advocate. Since retiring, she has spent more time with her husband, Craig, and their sons Tyler, Matt, and Seth. If you ask Betty, she highly recommends retirement. Golfing and relaxing are two things she enjoys.

• Shirley Chrissman has 17 years of experience. She is retiring from East Surry High School as a bus driver and school nutrition worker.

• Deborah Diamont, retired in August from North Surry High School with 23 years of service. Debby says since she has been “retired” for most of the school year, she can honestly say she misses the wonderful musical and dramatic performances of her very talented and creative students at North Surry. She has been very busy exploring other passions: working for her church, swimming a half-mile every day, and improving her “German” while traveling with the German American Partnership Program (GAPP).

• Barbara Freeman, is retiring as a teaching assistant from Pilot Mountain Elementary with 19 years.

• Charles Graham II, the Associate Superintendent is retiring with 30 years of service in education. Mr. Graham says the best thing about working in SCS was certainly the people, students, staff, and (most) parents. His advice to others: start your retirement plan the first day of work. After retirement, he plans to catch up on 30 years of lost time with his wife, his boys, his mom and his family. Mr. Graham leaves us all with this quote: It is easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult so choose your words wisely.

• Beverly Hamilton, 19 years in education, retiring from Pilot Mountain Middle School.

• Randell Hanes retired this past August with 28 years in education.

• Martha Hudson, a teacher from Central Middle School, is retiring with 31 years in education. Martha says, “I’ve always felt fortunate to work for Surry County Schools because I grew up here, and it was at Dobson Elementary where I first fell in love with school and knew that teaching was what I wanted to do. It was an honor to be able to return to my hometown and teach, and to be able to teach with Linda Causey, who inspired me to become a teacher, that was icing on the cake.”

• Melanie Hudspeth, has 30 years as a teacher. She is retiring from Dobson Elementary. Mrs. Hudspeth says that being a part of the transformation that occurs in first grade and watching the pride and confidence that reading brings to little children has brought her much joy over the years. She is looking forward to spending time with her parents, travel, cook healthy meals, read, and sleep.

• Lonnie Hutchens, 14 years in the school system. He is retiring from Shoals Elementary.

• Patricia Johnson a teacher from Copeland Elementary School is retiring with 22 years. After retirement, she plans to spend more time with family, friends, and her dog. She wants to exercise regularly and cook more at home. She has plans to visit the elderly folks in her church. She really wants to visit new places and travel across country. Her goal is to do something new every week.

• Darla Jordan, is a teaching assistant from Copeland Elementary School with 20 years of service. The one piece of advice she would give to a new person is remind yourself frequently why you are doing this job. After retirement, she plans to read, hike, fish and boat. And she is looking forward to just being able to sleep in.

• Judy Lacks retired from the state of Virginia and then worked at Central Middle School for 10 years as a classroom teacher. Her advice to new employees: If you think by working alone, you can be successful in your job or you can be successful with children, you will fail in your attempts. Success comes through collaboration and respect: collaboration with colleagues, collaboration with other departments or with support personnel, collaboration between employees and supervisors, and collaboration with parents and community.

• Margaret Marvin has 12 years of service. She is retiring from White Plains Elementary. She believes every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way. She encourages people to remember, all students are unique. Her favorite quote: “The influence of a good teacher can never be erased.”

• Doretha Moore, 21 years in school nutrition. She retired from Flat Rock Elementary in December.

• Rita Pack is retiring from East Surry with 13 years in school nutrition. Miss Rita is a hard-worker; she wanted to serve good food for the children and staff at East Surry and she accomplished that every day. She retired in October and has already been enjoying her retirement – she just returned from a cruise.

•Marcella Pryputniewicz, 3 years, retiring from White Plains Elementary. She says she has worked with children in after-school day care and says she has enjoyed being with children and watching them grow and become more mature as the year goes by.

• Terry Richardson has dedicated her life to 40 years of service in education. She is retiring from Gentry Middle School as a school counselor. Mrs. Richardson plans is to be available to her eight grandchildren. She says, “have nanny van — will travel.” Her oldest grandchild is 15, in the ninth grade at North Surry and has just gotten her learner’s permit; her youngest is two and just now able to talk well enough to let you know what he is thinking. After all, that’s what life’s about: making memories.

• Esther Robertson is retiring from Meadowview Magnet Middle with 13 years in school nutrition. Dr. Shelley Goins says that Mrs. Robertson is one of the sweetest ladies she has ever met and that she has a way of making every student and staff member feel good.

• Tim Shelton is retiring from Surry Central as a classroom teacher with 29 years. When asked the question what have you enjoyed most about working in Surry County Schools, Mr. Shelton said, “Too easy. The people I have taught, worked with, traveled with, coached with, coached against. It’s all about the relationships you have in life.” When asked his favorite quote? “I cannot teach you anything, I can only make you think.” — Socrates

• Billy Ray Shinault retired in February with 19 years from Copeland Elementary. He worked as a custodian, and Mrs. Spicer says that he displayed kindness to students and staff every day.

• Priscilla Shore has 30 years in education. She is retiring from East Surry as a classroom teacher. Her favorite quote is by Albert Einstein: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. After retirement she says, “I am the wife of a farmer. I will continue to do what I can on the farm, and explore new careers.”

• Ginger Shores is retiring as a finance officer, with 30 years of experience. Her favorite quote and her “life verse” is from the Bible in Romans Chapter 8, Verse 28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Mrs. Shores says this verse has proved true many times in her life, and she expects it will continue. She believes she was “called” to work in the school environment, and she hopes she can say she has finished well.

• Mary Susabach has 12 years as a classroom teacher at Copeland Elementary. Mrs. Susebach and her husband have ordered a new 2017 F250 truck and a 28-foot Winnebago Minnie​ travel trailer. Guess what they’re gonna do.

• Monette Swaim, 20 years as a teaching assistant, she is retiring from Copeland Elementary. Monette says, “I have enjoyed every minute that I have worked with a child over the past 20 years. My prayer is that I have touched a child’s life in a positive way. To make a difference in one child’s life would be worth the journey.” After retirement, she plans to babysit her grandson who is 6 months old.

• Linda Taylor retired from East Surry with 28 years in school nutrition back in December. She liked to pick and have a good time – she wanted to make sure that the staff and students ate well each day. It’s my understanding that Rodney Dockery always made Linda nervous. Is that true Linda?

• Dana Thomas – principal at Shoals Elementary is retiring with 30 years. Mrs. Thomas says that she has been fortunate to be in some of the best classrooms in the state. She says, “I have seen magic happen with a smile, a laugh, and a heart. Things happen in Surry County that do not happen anywhere else. The dedication and heart that Surry County Schools’ employees put forth each and every day are a powerful force, and I am indeed fortunate to have worked with some of the best.”

• Byron Voigt, classroom teacher at Pilot Mountain Middle is retiring with 29 years. Mr. Voigt says he really has no set plans for his retirement thus far. He will probably get a part-time job somewhere to keep himself busy. There is a strong possibility that he will do some substitute teaching after six months just to keep in touch with the staff at PMMS. He has loved teaching and will have a hard time separating himself from it especially when his wife and daughter are still part of Surry County Schools. It has been a great 30 years for him and he says he will always be an educator.

• Terrea Wall is retiring from Cedar Ridge Elementary with 30 years. Mrs. Wall says the advice that I would give all new teachers: “Know each child’s ‘story.’ Do not form an opinion about a child based on behavior, cleanliness, or even attitude. You need to get to know them. Show them love, and learning will follow.” That is quite fitting for Mrs. Wall since her favorite quote is: They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

• Dale Whitfield retired in March from North Surry. She served 18 years as an exceptional children’s teacher.

Surry County Schools recently held a retirement banquet in honor of all the employees who are retiring from its 19 campuses and central office. County Schools recently held a retirement banquet in honor of all the employees who are retiring from its 19 campuses and central office.Surry County Schools

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

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