LAURINBURG — Five tidbits of advice from those retiring from the Scotland County Schools this year:
“Serenity prayer daily,” — John Teal, Shaw Academy principal
“Treat every child as if they are your very own,” — Lisa Hecht, Sycamore Lane Middle
“Never give up hope! Keep believing!” — Judy Thompson, Laurel Hill Elementary
“Always have free lunches for the kids,” — Mattie Evans, Wagram Elementary
“They are all special in their own way! Love each for who they are!” — Anne Myers, Sycamore Lane Middle
Those five educators were among the 44 honored by the school system on Tuesday who, combined, have served the school system for nearly a millennium.
Hoping to explore opportunities in education outside of Scotland County, Rick Singletary leaves Sycamore Lane after 12 years as its principal having tried to make a positive influence that will continue to ripple in his absence.
“Education is where one can make an impact that can keep growing and growing,” he said. “If I can reach somebody and they reach somebody and they reach somebody, that’s a root to make positive impacts on people from all walks of life.”
Also retiring is sixth grade math teacher Catherine Chavis, who spent 30 of her 35 years with the Scotland County Schools at Sycamore Lane.
“I jokingly say I came with the bricks,” she said.
Though a teacher’s day, contrary to popular belief, does not end when students board the bus home, Chavis’ passion for children sustained her through hours of tedious paperwork.
“Anybody that goes into education, they need to love the children and enjoy working with the children,” said Chavis. “I love working with children, and I’ve loved what I’ve done over these years. A new grandbaby pushed the decision for me to go ahead and go out the door, but it was time.”
Reflecting on her 30 years with the system, Wagram Elementary social worker Carol Quick — who at one time was the only social worker in the school system — found that her role helping students in difficult situations realize their potential has had an impact on her as well as them.
“I saw children that really struggle with poverty and issues at home learning to believe in themselves and become successful,” she said. “I had a student that was actually homeless that got a scholarship and graduated in aeronautical engineering.”
Nancy Shelley, retired after 40 years, taught at Carver, East Laurinburg, and finally Scotland High School, finding along the way that she preferred teaching algebra and geometry to calculus. She has also coached softball and cheerleading, which has left her with a wealth of stories.
“I’m going to write a book, because I’ve got so many funny things to tell,” Shelley said. “I say I’m richer than a lot of people who’ve got millions of dollars. Now I have children coming back and they say “Mrs. Shelley, are you still there? We had the best time.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.