Retiring school employees reflect on careers, kids

Published 8:24 am Friday, June 11, 2010

COURTLAND—This year several teachers, administrators and other staff will be retiring from area public and private schools.

They leave behind an education system that has benefited from huge technological advances, but still faces many challenges ahead.

“Kids haven’t changed that much in 36 years,” said V. Scott Weatherford, who has spent the last six years of his career at Southampton High School and is the student success teacher. “Society has changed and the kids reflect it. Kids today have much more of a sense of entitlement, so they need to be pushed a lot harder than previous groups of kids had to be.”

Nancy Wellons, who currently teaches earth science and ecology at SHS, concurred.

“That’s what I’m really going to miss,” Wellons, who will retire after 22 years with the division, said. “I’m going to have to find some other children to motivate and work with.”

Kathryn Hill, who will retire after 37 years and is the SHS librarian, also plans to work with kids, but at the Minnesota Zoo, where she hopes to work as a volunteer. She plans to move to Burnsville, Minn., after retiring to be near her family.

“I’ll be about 10 to 15 minutes from my mother,” Hill said. “After 37 years, I’ll be just across a couple streets from my mom.”

Meanwhile, Wellons plans to travel to Alaska and Hawaii.

Weatherford said he would continue his other job working security at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital and might also work as a substitute teacher. Both are looking forward to spending more time with their grandchildren.

They reflected on how society has changed, for better and for worse.

“I hope society comes back to value education and responsibility,” Weatherford said. “With all of the business closures and layoffs, you would think that people would have a greater appreciation of what kids need.”

“The world has changed, but the importance of education has changed for the better,” Wellons added. “When I started, I had a blackboard and chalk. Today we have all of the technology, everything at our fingertips to work with to motivate the students.”

“We have students that want to learn, in spite of the fact that society is pulling them in a hundred different ways, with all of the things they can have in their hands and all of the things they can view,” she added.

Others retiring include from:

Southampton Public Schools

Southampton Middle School teacher assistant Erselle Ricks with 41 years.

Meherrin Elementary School teachers Rosalind Holland and Bernice Graves with 18 and 28 years, respectively.

Capron Elementary School teacher Dawn Roach and librarian Susan Kirby with 11 and 22 years, respectively.

Nottoway Elementary School custodian Verdine Urquhart, who served 22 years, and Riverdale Elementary School teacher Janet Boyd, who taught for 21 years.

Franklin Public Schools

Franklin High School teachers Carole Dixon, Rose Parker and Naomi Knight will retire. Dixon and Parker each have 23 years of service while Knight has three. Secretaries Dorenda Powers and Sandra Curvin will retire with 10 and 14 years, respectively.

At S.P. Morton Elementary School, teacher Steve McDaniel will retire with 13 years of service, while reading specialist Joyce Kaplan and guidance counselor Donna Turner will each retire with 22 years.

No staff members are to retire from J.P. King Middle School, but teacher Kathyrn Dunlap—an educator and teacher for 37 years, six of them in Franklin—passed away in September at age 58. She was honored with the other division retirees at a recent appreciation dinner.

Isle of Wight

County Schools

Reuben Johns, the division’s coordinator of instruction, will retire after 37 years of service.

Windsor High School librarian Nancy Parker and Carrsville Elementary School teacher Margaret Worrell will both retire with 34 years of service, while WHS teacher Rodney Ashe has 26 years.

Carrollton Elementary School teachers Barbara Keating, Carol Boettcher and Evelyn Gwaltney will retire with 22, 23 and 25 years, respectively.

Smithfield High School teacher Susan Andrews will retire with 5 years of service, Smithfield Middle School teacher Estella Middleton had 35 years, Windsor Elementary School assistant principal Sandra Sessoms-Penny had 13 years, central office transition specialist Ana Benson had 12 years and Westside Elementary School teacher Brenda Hayth had two years.

Private schools

Southampton Academy teacher Joanna “Toni” Phillips will retire after 31 years of service. Meanwhile, Kay Goldberg, a teacher at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy in Suffolk, will also retire after 31 years.

There are no staff members retiring from Tidewater Academy in Wakefield or Isle of Wight Academy.