Retirees thanked for service to schools, students
The Woodford County Board of Education recognized and thanked 23 retirees on Monday night for their collective 524 years of service. Each board member and schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins offered words of appreciation for what these retirees have done over those many years to make a difference in the lives of countless students. "No matter what job you do in a school district, you make a difference," Hawkins said. "And the thing that sticks out for me - year after year after year when we do this - is we just have great people; wonderful people, who have such a heart (for our students), who work in our schools." Southside Elementary teacher Lisa Padgett, who's retiring after 28 years in the classroom, was a tremendous educator and "huge part of Southside," Principal Jason McAllister said. McAllister said he regularly meets people "who have been impacted by her ... and they don't forget her..." And he still remembers how Padgett assured him "everything was going to be okay" during his first week at Southside. "There is no question that we are better off with having her as part of Southside, and we will miss her...," added McAllister. Southside Elementary secretary Linda Clifton, retiring after 29 years of service, was described by McAllister as "all the things you want in somebody working in your office." He said Clifton was fiercely loyal to her family and those she cares about. "There are a lot of people that are hard to replace when ... they leave your building and she will be the hardest to replace," said McAllister. Two longtime educators at Woodford County High School also retired. Terri Morford finished her 33-year tenure earlier in the school year. She had already been thanked by a group of students - members of her Harambe Choir - who returned to WCHS from all across the country at the end of last school year to say goodbye with a song. Their visit showed how much one teacher can touch the life of a student. "And Terri has that legacy with our kids," said Principal Rob Akers, who always respected her because she "cared so much about" the school. "She's given her whole life in one classroom to thousands of kids," added Akers. For 34 years at WCHS, Jay Lucas has made a difference in the lives of students as teacher and coach. "He's coached hundreds and hundreds of kids. Taught thousands of kids," said Akers. "And I just know that the place (WCHS) isn't going to be the same without Jay being here next year." Nancy McGruder, attendance clerk at Simmons Elementary School with 29 years of service, was described by Principal Tiffany Cook as a "listening ear" for her co-workers. She said "Gruder" was there every morning to greet students walking into the building. Woodford County Middle School instructional assistant Stephanie VanHoose has always been "a warm-hearted person with a gentle smile," said Principal Tracy Bruno. He said she held students to "very high expectations" and was a vital part of the special needs program at WCMS before her retirement last October after 29 years of service. WCMS attendance clerk Marcha Allison embodied the unique energy needed in a middle school during her 27-year career, according to Bruno. She'll be difficult to replace because "you have to have a certain kind of personality" to work at a middle school, he added. May Blevins is retiring from Southside Elementary's ETC after-school program with nine years of service. "It's a gift to go into those after-school programs and provide that kind of service for the parents and for the grandparents," said McAllister. "...We as a staff know how much that service means and the kind of caring people that you have - and May is one of those people." Transportation Director Kay Tegethoff shared some personal memories of her five retiring school bus drivers. Bill Polsgrove, she said, "he's always smiling." The students on his bus "held a very special place in his heart," she added. Patricia Burnett, said Tegethoff, "she's probably one of the kindest people I've ever met." A special needs bus driver, Burnett "welcomed me with open arms" when she was hired as director of transportation nearly three years ago," Tegethoff said. Bus driver Ruby Hilton was "always willing to help" and "she loved her kids," said Tegethoff. She said Hilton and Jean Grieffith were "always early ... never late, always on time." Tegethoff described bus driver Art Maloney as "our class clown." He offered his coworkers gum "almost every single day" and "made us smile," she added. Food Service Coordinator Courtney Quire shared the words of cafeteria managers who worked with two retiring lunch ladies. Linda Walling, a mainstay in the cafeteria at WCMS for 23 years, was "not only a good employee, but even more important, a great friend." WCHS cafeteria worker Kathy Roe was "always so positive ... and kind-hearted" during her 15 years in food service. Joanne Cress (WCMS/16 years of service) and Sandra Gaines (Simmons/16 years of service) were not present at Monday's recognition of retirees. Also not present were Jerry Lancaster (40 years of service in maintenance), Teresa Vance (a teacher at Huntertown with 29 years of service), Jackie Hogue (a teacher at Huntertown with 26 years of service), Angie Martin (24 years of service at central office), Elizabeth Skelton (a teacher at Simmons with 20 years of service) and Kathryn Brandon (who retired from WCHS with 15 years of service).