Berkeley County Schools retirees honored

June 02, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley Heights Elementary School cook Nancy French no longer will serve a little bit of extra food to children who look hungry.

Hedgesville High School teacher and coach Ronald Renner no longer will keep a watchful eye over students serving in-school suspension.

Title I teacher Roxanna McClung's laughter no longer will resonate through the hallways of Rosemont Elementary, infecting fellow staff members and students with a good mood.

And custodian Jim "Inspector Gadget" Long no longer will use a variety of instruments and tools to ensure Tuscarora Elementary School is functioning properly.


Long, McClung, Renner and French are four of 39 employees retiring from Berkeley County Schools. A banquet for the retirees was Wednesday evening at Martinsburg High School.

Each retiree was called to the front of the room, where his or her school principal recounted their experience and shared anecdotes. They then posed for photographs taken by a local professional photographer.

Berkeley County Board of Education President Bill Queen said the banquet would honor "39 very distinguished service personnel and caring educators who have given numerous, numerous years to this school system."

It was a privilege and an honor serving with each employee, Queen told the audience.

One of the retirees, Frederica Knicely, has been teaching math courses at Martinsburg High School for 32 years.

Her principal, Ken Pack, said Knicely led her students through a lot of tasks and always was willing to accept any difficult situation.

After the banquet, Knicely said she enjoyed working with her fellow math teachers at the school, with whom she had a good rapport.

She also fondly remembers West Virginia Math Field Days.

"I've just enjoyed working with the youth," she said, but added she's ready to retire.

She plans to sew, complete projects around her home and spend more time with her husband, who already has retired.

Asked for advice for new teachers, she paused to consider.

"Take each day as a challenge and meet each challenge," she said. "Each day is a different challenge."

Musselman High School Assistant Principal Ron Branch "regretfully" introduced "two young ladies" who are retiring - head counselor Roxena Frye and math teacher Penny Price.

Branch said he went into denial in the beginning of the school year when Frye said she was considering retiring. Frye knows all the students and can answer any question posed to her, Branch said.

Price, who opened her home to Branch and his wife when he started teaching at the school seven years ago, can teach even those students considered to be "unteachable," he said.

North Middle School Principal Kitty Cauffman spoke about Gayle McGowan, who teaches students in the school's gifted program, and math teacher Shirley Dearing.

Dearing is a role model for many and a legend at the school, Cauffman said.

"We will have a very difficult time finding someone to pick up your lead," Cauffman told Dearing. "Continue to laugh and live life with that flair."

A comment made by Linda Ghion, principal at Bedington Elementary School, about retiring teacher Rosemary Day seemed to reflect the thoughts of all the principals who spoke.

"We are going to miss her very, very much," Ghion said.

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