Photo by Jeylin White
Clayton County Public Schools’ Fine Arts Director, Kay Sledge, retires after 39 years with the school system. She attended opening night, last week, for the district’s county-wide musical, Disney’s Beauty and Beast. The production was held at the district’s Performing Arts Center, a.k.a. the PAC.
After serving nearly 40 years with Clayton County Public Schools, Kay Sledge, whose last role was as the school system’s fine arts director, has decided to retire.
“I’ve been working for the school system since 1973 — it’s just time,” Sledge said. “There are so many young and talented teachers in the school system and it’s time for them to take on the leadership roles.”
Monday, April 30, was officially Sledge’s last day — not a bittersweet occasion, but rather a joyous one. “My last day was fun,” said Sledge. “When I came into the office, my fellow employees decorated the office with balloons and there was cookies and punch.”
To add humor to her departure, Sledge said, she walked around with a tiara on her head for the entire day. “It was just for joke,” she said jovially. “I got the idea to wear a tiara after attending a conference and saw all these little girls getting off a bus and they were wearing one.”
She added she noticed how the high the young girls’ self-esteem was, so she said she thought to herself she was going to wear a tiara on her last day. Sledge said she even sported the tiara at the board of education meeting later that evening, which Clayton County Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley, and the scores in attendance, took notice of with humor.
“It was good from the moment I got there to the moment I left,” she said. “I’m really going to miss the children and my fellow co-workers.”
Sledge has assumed just about every administrative and teaching role in the school system, some of which came at the highest level of the school system’s central administration. She was a major instrument in the school system’s winning its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation back in 2009.
But she said she’d rather focus on her plans for the future.
“I don’t want to [brag],” said Sledge. “It’s not about what I’ve done. It’s not important. I know there are many talented individuals in the school system who are going to greater things.”
Sledge said she plans on spending her time sewing, vacationing with her family — she gushed about going to Hawaii this summer — and spending more time with her husband, and nine grandchildren. Most importantly, she said, she will go on several mission trips with her church, First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, where she has been a member for more than 30 years.
Sledge said she will take her eldest granddaughters on a mission trip in July to Golden Isle Ministry in Brunswick, Ga., where they will work in housing projects, teaching vacation bible school to modest-income residents.
“I believe God has called me to do missions and that is my ministry,” she said. “I have gone on several missions with my church already and now I want to pass it on to my grandchildren. ... I want my grandchildren to see what missions is all about.”
Sledge said though she is not an employee with the school system anymore, she will still remain an active community supporter.
“I live in Clayton County and I still want to be a part of what is going on in the county and the school system but, really, it’s time for the young people to step up and take on the leadership roles,” she said.