School system retirees honored

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 10, 2005

Some of them stood in front of classrooms school year after school year. Some watched over libraries, helping children find the necessary reading materials. Others navigated afternoon traffic in a rush to get kids home on time.

No matter their duty, all of the 28 honorees at the Suffolk Public Schools annual retirement dinner Wednesday night were honored for the contribution they made. The retirees compiled a total of nearly 600 years of service to the local school system.

With 39 years under her belt, Driver Elementary veteran reading specialist Carolyn Harris had the longest individual tenure.

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&uot;She’s very passionate,&uot; Driver principal Nancy Harrell said of Harris. &uot;She comes in early, and she’s the last to leave. She truly loves children, and that’s what we’re in the business for. She’s an advocate not just for students, but for teachers as well.&uot;

According to Kilby Shores Elementary principal Sunny Dixon, 26-year veteran Nancy White &uot;puts the marvel in marvelous. At Prudential (Insurance), they invite you to get a piece of the rock. At Burger King, they say to have it your way. Timex watches take a licking and keeps on ticking. Maxwell House coffee is good to the last drop.

&uot;Nancy is all of that and more,&uot; Dixon said. &uot;Like the Chevrolet ad says, she’s the heartbeat of America, better than all the rest.&uot;

&uot;Retirement is a blessing,&uot; said Lakeland High principal Thomas Whitley, bidding farewell to Elaine Harris, Joseph Boone and John Smith, who had combined for a total of 25 years in the system. &uot;(Harris) is too young to retire. I asked her to stick around for another 13 years so we could retire together, and for the first time ever, she said, ‘No, Mr. Whitley, I don’t think I can do that.&uot;

Not only did Nansemond River retirees Alice Justice and Sandra Purdy help thousands of students during their combined 55 years, principal Thomas McLemore said, &uot;they also helped a tremendous amount of teachers and other administrators. They have touched many lives through their careers.&uot;

Over the past 30 years, anyone who saw schools superintendent Dr. Milton Liverman didn’t have to look far to find Janice Holland, the assistant superintendent since 1997.

&uot;We’ve stood side by side and shoulder to shoulder for many years,&uot; Liverman said in his farewell to his longtime colleague.

&uot;It’s going to be very difficult when she’s not around full time. We team-taught at summer schools, we got married at about the same time, and our administrative careers got started together. I always thought we’d retire together, but I’m not ready yet.&uot;

Before backing up Liverman, Holland taught at Forest Glen High and was the assistant principal at John F. Kennedy High and principal at Elephant’s Fork Elementary.

&uot;You don’t start over,&uot; said Holland, who mentioned among her future plans to become an advocate for a local rape victims group. &uot;You just continue. Working 60 hours a week, after a while you can’t do that anymore. I’ll miss the people and the kids; they’re the only reason to be in education.&uot;

In bidding goodbye to the departees, School Board Chairman Lorraine Skeeter quoted from a greeting card.

&uot;Retirement is just another name for adventure,&uot; she said. &uot;Dream some new dreams now that you know how to make them come true. Enjoy the everyday miracles you were too busy to notice until now. I hope this is the beginning of a wonderful time in your life.&uot;

Other retirees included:

Dr. Lynn Cross’ office: Marguerite Heely

Bettie Swain’s office: Patricia Spriggs

Turlington Woods: Eugene Brown, Elvin Wright

JFK Middle: Shirley Cross

Elephant’s Fork Elementary: Betty Antonucci, Vivian Wiggins-Almond

Mack Benn Elementary: Rosemary Klare

Mount Zion Elementary: Melanie Loulies

Nansemond Parkway Elementary: Celia Moore, Charlotte Parr

Northern Shores Elementary: Linda Knight

Southwestern Elementary: Brenda Bass, Sara Caton, Sandra Stokes

Transportation:Leon Goodman, Carolyn Jones, Diana King, Carol Lewis, Annie Vaughn