By Curt Yeomans
Hundreds of retired educators in Clayton and Henry counties will be among more than 72,000 honored across Georgia on Sunday.
"Retired educators contribute a lot back to their communities, such as tutoring students, or volunteering at the local hospital," said Harry Werner, a former president of Georgia Retired Educators Association. "Retired Educators Day gives people a chance to recognize the contributions made by these educators, to the community."
There are more than 1,400 retired educators in Clayton and Henry counties, who should share in the recognition, according to local associations in the counties. The Henry County Retired Educators Association (HCREA) celebrated its 37th birthday earlier this year, and the Clayton County Retired Educators Association (CCREA) turned 34. Both are part of the 50-year-old Georgia Retired Educators Association (GREA).
In late September, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a proclamation declaring Nov. 4, "Retired Educators Day" in Georgia, as a way to "recognize the lasting contributions" of retired teachers, cafeteria workers, counselors and administrators. The state has set aside a specific day to recognize retired educators for more than two decades.
"Retired educators possess valuable knowledge, and use their lifetime experiences and skills to enrich the educational process in a variety of settings," the proclamation states. "Often they continue to be a major source of insight and direction for our state and our nation ... All citizens of Georgia owe a debt of gratitude and appreciation to retired educators for their dedicated service ..."
In both Clayton and Henry, churches are being asked to recognize the special day during regular Sunday religious services, in their church bulletins, or on their marquee signs.
Members of HCREA are also being asked to wear a white ribbon, which was mailed with their most recent newsletter, said Werner, who retired as principal of Locust Grove Elementary School in 1999, after 32 years in education.
Bill Marsh, the president of CCREA, said many do not always realize how many contributions to their lives were made by their teachers. Marsh retired in 2002, after 37 years in the teaching profession, the last 23 of which were spent teaching math at Morrow High School.
"Educators are the ones who taught you how to read," Marsh said. "They taught you the mathematics you use everyday, to do things like balance your checkbook. Counselors steer people in the right direction. Music and art teachers taught you culture. Foreign language teachers taught us how to communicate with the world, while we learned about the world from geography teachers."
"People don't recognize all the bits of information they got from their teachers," agreed Eddie White, the public relations director for CCREA. Having a specific day set aside means a lot to these people who have worked in the classroom, cafeterias or administrative offices, said White. He retired from the Clayton County school system in 1996, after 35 years as an educator. He became a substitute administrator the following year, and continued in that role until he was elected to the Clayton County Board of Education in 2004.
"It's good to know you're appreciated," White said.