More than 5,000 years—5,009 years to be exact—that’s how many years of collective service this year’s retirees have dedicated to students in the Cobb County School District.
On Thursday during the annual retirement luncheon at Roswell Street Baptist Church, Cobb Schools honored the 229 employees who have been loyal members of the District’s team and for decades have supported the District’s goal of student success.
“You are leaving a powerful legacy. Our schools would not be the same. Our students would not be the same. Without the commitment of this group of staff members over the past four decades, none of us would be the same,” said Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale. “Your impact will live on through our students. Thank you for your service. You helped make Cobb the best place to teach, lead, and learn.”
Thirteen of the recognized retirees didn’t say goodbye after 10, 20, or even 30 years. They chose to stay and to continue impacting students in Cobb every day for several more years. The stand-out group includes retires with more than 35 years of service.
Cheatham Hill Elementary School teacher Sheila Fisher and East Side Elementary School teacher Debra Denise Clackum are retiring after 35 years of service to Cobb County students.
Donna Childers, a food service manager at Campbell Middle School, is also retiring after 35 years of service.
Five retirees supported students for 36 years: Susan Christensen, Director of Special Education; Leigh Graham, North Cobb High School assistant principal; Lawrence Moon, Walton High School custodian; Heang Khel, Osborne High School head custodian; and Deborah Poss, Lassiter High School teacher.
Poss is not the only Lassiter teacher retiring after almost four decades of service. Donald Slater is retiring after 38 years.
This year, two Cobb food service managers are retiring after 39 years of service: Rosemary Winter, Griffin Middle School, and Jeannie Ledbetter, Lassiter High School.
“It is the greatest part-time job with benefits that you could ever have. You get summers off. You get to enjoy life,” Ledbetter said reflecting on her time as a food service manager.
One of the retirees with the most experience inside schools is retiring after more than four decades. Audrey Tatum’s memory of students, staff, parents, the closing of schools, and the opening of new schools spans 41 years. This year Tatum, who started in the District as a bus driver, says goodbye to Barber Middle School and closes the book on her time as a school clerk.
“To me, the fulfilling part was the students who I drove in kindergarten that come up to me after they have graduated college and have jobs as pharmacists and doctors. It makes me feel good because I felt like I had a part of it. I really loved my job and my kids,” the retiring Tatum said.
Like Tatum, the retiree with the most experience in the District also made sure students got to school every day safely and on time. Lillian King is retiring with 42 years of service as a bus driver.
As the retirees look back at their years of service, Tatum’s thoughts on her time in Cobb may sum it up best:
“I loved it. I loved my kids. I loved the people I worked with.”