Educators close books on careers

June 08, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

Chances are good that anyone who called or visited Back Creek Valley Elementary School in the last 19 years was greeted by the soothing voice of Donna Frye.

Those who had fifth-grade classes with Betsy Dove almost certainly learned of "Addy," a fictional 11-year-old black girl whose books Dove said are the modern-day equivalent of "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

And students at Bedington Elementary may not have realized it, but their principal for the past four years, George Lloyd, has been behind the scenes trying to implement quality programs, especially in what he called a passion - reading.


Next year, someone else will answer the phone at Back Creek. Dove's Addy doll will go on a shelf. And a new principal will roam the halls of Bedington.

After accruing a wealth of knowledge, all three are retiring from the school system.

That does not mean they will hang up their education hats. The smell of chalk, the faces of children and the joys of being in the classroom can get into an educator's blood.

A coffee chat

She was scared at first. The man seemed so angry.

Upset over something involving his child, the man stormed into the office at Back Creek Valley Elementary and encountered Frye.

Trying to triumph over her fear, Donna Frye, 58, offered the livid parent a cup of coffee.

"It was just like he melted," Frye said.

The man's anger dissipated and the situation was resolved.

That's one of many stories from Frye's years in the school system.

She worked for six years as a secretary in the Board of Education office, then worked for six years at Martinsburg South Middle School before transferring to Back Creek Valley Elementary, a mile or so from her home.

Frye remembers the time a boy jumped off the swings and complained that his hands hurt. Although she spotted no obvious injuries, Frye called the boy's mother because he seemed genuinely in pain.

Turns out, both of his wrists were broken.

"Most of the kids think I'm the school nurse. I fix all their boo-boos," Frye said.

Along with her husband, two children and six grandchildren, Frye also found family with those in the school system. She'll miss them, and the students, she said.

After she retires, Frye said, she plans to volunteer, possibly at a food bank and free health clinic. Visiting her school and quilting are on the to-do list, and Frye said she'll "probably rock some grandbabies."

Town to country

When he worked as a teacher and administrator in Anne Arundel County, Md., George Lloyd kept a second home in the Eastern Panhandle.

He retreated to the home every weekend and, after retiring from the Maryland school system, realized he liked this area a lot.

To Berkeley County he came, as a resident and again as a teacher and then principal.

"People out here are so warm and friendly," said Lloyd, a gregarious man who is rarely without a smile.

Lloyd, 69, worked as a teacher at Musselman Middle, Tomahawk Elementary and Rosemont Elementary schools before becoming the principal at Bedington Elementary four years ago.

Never a man to not stay busy, Lloyd said he hopes to find a part-time job that allows him to work a day or two a week. Tutoring Title I students is a possibility, he said.

He said he'll miss the staff and associating with the students.

"We're just like family," he said.

In Anne Arundel County, Lloyd said, the average school had 600 to 800 students. The largest school in which he taught had 1,100.

Bedington Elementary has 170 students.

Although it's smaller, Lloyd said the school system here is "tremendous." One obvious difference, he said, is that people know each other more personally.

With a master's in reading and in administration, Lloyd said he worked to get quality reading programs in his schools.

A principle that guided Lloyd involved his students.

"I always try to put the kids first. We're here to work with the boys and girls. We try to put them number one," he said.

During a retirement banquet held recently for the county's retirees, schools Superintendent Manny Arvon started his praise with a pause.

"Mr. Lloyd. George cracks me up. You know, what a wonderful man," Arvon said, before telling Lloyd: "You have impacted us with your great skills, your personality."

During his retirement - which will not be spent playing golf, since Lloyd has a humbling story about the one time he went to a driving range with a bucket of golf balls - Lloyd said he plans to stop by his school.

"Guaranteed. You probably couldn't keep me out."

Holding the key

Like everyone else, Betsy Dove has keys to her house and keys to her car.

Only, educators hold another set of keys - those to a child's future, she said.

"If you have that key, the world is yours," she said. "People who teach understand how important it is, the great rewards it gives."

Dove taught at several schools, including some in surrounding counties. She retires as a fifth-grade teacher at Eagle School Intermediate.

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