Photo by Johnny Jackson
Retired Luella Elementary School Principal Lois Wolfe (far right) laughs with former colleagues following Henry County Schools' 2011 Retirement Celebration on Thursday.
By Johnny Jackson
Marie Marrero's voice cracked, and tears welled in her eyes, as she spoke about leaving a more than 40-year career as an educator.
"I will miss my students very much," said Marrero. "I will miss my co-workers, and the teachers in my department."
Marrero is one among 85 faculty and staff retiring this year from the Henry County School System. As a 40-year veteran Spanish language teacher, she was named one of the most experienced retirees during the school system's 2011 Retirement Celebration on Thursday.
"I think all of us contribute in some way to the functioning of the schools," she said. "All of us care for them... it's a team, for the benefit of the children."
Marrero, who officially retires on May 31, estimates she has taught more than 4,000 students over her career. And, like other retirees -- custodians, teachers and administrators alike -- she said she believes she has positively impacted the lives of those young people.
"Many students have come back, e-mailed me once in a while, and thanked me," she said. "It's a great satisfaction when I go somewhere and see them as pharmacists and doctors."
Marrero said she has also been invited to, and attended, some of their weddings.
Emotion washed over the mother of two, as she recalled her years teaching and inspiring the youth. And such was the sentiment during the two-hour celebration honoring school system retirees.
"It's always a touching moment, and you're so elated that you've done it so long," said retiree Barbara Calhoun.
Calhoun, a member of the Henry County Retired Educators Association, retired 15 years ago from the Henry County School System. She said she finished part of her 30-year career in the school system at Wesley Lakes Elementary School in McDonough.
"I always enjoy coming here," said the veteran educator.
Calhoun said she spends some of her free time as a substitute teacher, but she advises new retirees "to relax and enjoy" their retirements.
Marrero said she plans to do just that.
"After 40 years, I think I deserve some rest," Marrero said. "But I know I will miss it a lot."
Marerro said she started teaching at age 19, in Puerto Rico. She spent 19 years there, nine years in Missouri, and 12 years teaching at Eagle's Landing High School, in McDonough.
"It's been a pleasure," said Marrero, who acknowledged that returning to the profession part-time is not out of the question.
The school system's 2010-11 retirees are: Susan Adams, Jessie Anderson, James Bagley, Jr., Joyce Barbeau, Judy Barfield, Angela Bell, Yan Beng, Kathy Bishop, Virginia Blount, Amy Bodle, Claudia Brooks, Janice Brooks, JoAnn Brownlee, Daniel Burchfield, Valerie Burson, Viola Byars, Donna Carlisle, Dorothy Cintron, Senesta Collier, Brenda Daniel, Dan DeWolf, Lorhett Finch, Paula Fossum, Patricia Fountain, Terri George, Linda Gilliam, Gerald "Max" Grant, Sr., Betty Grantham, Betty Harper, Janet Hawkins, Stephanie Hoffman, Cindy Holder, Donann Holt, Dannelle Hughey, Geri Jackson, April Johnson, Donna Johnson, Martha Kustermann, JeriAnn Lenox, Martha Litten, Maria Marrero, Brenda Martin, Ann Marting, Donna McDonald, Michele Meason, Susan Miller, Karen Mitchell, Carol Montague, Isiah Moore, Jr., Kathleen Mullett, Jane Murphy, Bill Murton, Gail Notti, Lloyd Nutter, Dorothy Peterson, Kathleen Reddock, Andrew "Mike" Reed, Jean Schwartz, Michael Shaner, Brenda Shofman, Nancy Shumate, Danny Smith, Margaret Sottosanti, Stacey Speer, Debbie Studle, Michael Surma, Linda Swain, Sharon Tatum, Olivia Taylor, Mary Taylor, Margaret Taylor, Fred Tilt, Hugh Toro, Shirley Vaughn, Bobbie Waldon, Sallie Wellden, Suzanne Williams, JoAnn Wilmoth, Terry Lynn Wilson, Rex Winn, Lois Wolfe, Glynnda Wong, Darrell Woodall, Jean Worgo.