Prior to the high school graduations for the school system, all on May 31, a celebration was conducted for retirees at Union Grove Middle School in their honor.
A mix of teachers, support staff and administrators retired, with years of service from less than 10 years all the way up to nearly 50 years.
Cheryl Carter, former principal of Austin Road Middle School, was one of the retirees honored.
She said putting her 32 years in education – and 23 years within administration — behind her is bittersweet.
“My most memorable moments have been with the children, our successes and celebrating with them,” Carter said. “I have also met a lot of super teachers throughout the years. I will cherish those [teachers] and stay in touch.”
Brenda Lunsford, a paraprofessional formerly at McDonough Elementary School, also put in 32 years in education before retiring at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
She said the hardest part would be giving up her daily interaction with the kids.
“That’s the part I love the best,” Lunsford said. “But, after 32 years, I think I’ve done everything, saw everything and decided to go in a different direction.”
While Carter was unsure about her plans after retirement aside from contributing in some way to education, Lunsford said she will volunteer extensively.
“I’m going to travel and volunteer at a local nursing home,” she said. “I will also volunteer here [at McDonough Elementary] and check in on some of my kids.”
Family members and friends attended the celebration, which included a student vocal performance, remarks from school Superintendent Ethan Hildreth, Ph.D., refreshments and distribution of gifts from the school system and from the Henry County Retired Educators Association.