By Ida Brown / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
More than 800 years of dedication to education from faculty and staff members of the Lauderdale County School District was recognized at Thursday's retirement celebration.
LCSD Superintendent Randy Hodges congratulated and thanked the 32 retirees for their 843 years with the school district.
"We not only want to congratulate them for reaching retirement, but we also want to thank them for their service," Hodges said. "As I always say, what makes our school district as successful as it is, is the people in it."
Among the school district's honorees are two couples: Lois and Dr. James K. Smith and Jane and Mark Beavers.
Lois Smith, a ninth and 10th grade Biology I and Accelerated Biology teacher at Southeast High School, is retiring after 13 years. Smith said she will miss the students, as well as the opportunity to make an investment in their lives.
"It's great to see them go out in the world and see them do well, especially in the sciences," she said.
Smith said she plans to travel, spend time with family and work on projects. A former lab technician and environmental chemist, Smith said she may also embark on a new career.
Dr. James K. Smith, who is retiring after seven years, teaches biology (introduction, Biology I and II and Advanced Placement), anatomy and physiology and geology at Southeast High School. A retired pastor, Smith has also taught theology courses.
Like his wife, Smith enjoys working with young people and says he will miss his students most upon his retirement.
"I've had a really enjoyable experience in teaching," he said.
Smith plans to return to his work in the ministry, as well as travel and hybridize day lilies.
Jane Beavers, who teaches eighth grade English, has worked at Southeast Elementary/Middle School all of her 25 1/2 years in education. She credits a love for English and memorable teachers as her inspirations to become a teacher, but says her students are what make it most enjoyable.
"I really like the interaction with the students; I love getting to know them and learning what makes them 'tick,'" she said.
Beavers added, kind words, hugs and that "Aha!" moment" are the rewards of teaching, and said what she will miss most is the excitement and variety.
"Everyday is different – some good, some bad, but never boring," she said.
Beavers said she does not know what lies ahead for her after retirement.
"I will take it one day at a time," she said.
After 21 years as a fifth grade math teacher at Southeast, Mark Beavers said his five years as a PE coach at Southeast Elementary School have been the most fun filled.
"I was lucked into a PE position," he said. "I have so enjoyed these last five years. Instead of being so serious, as I was as a classroom teacher, I got to play with kids. And it has been absolutely wonderful!"
Beavers, who is now known as Coach B, said interacting with students – in the classroom and at play – is the most rewarding aspect of teaching.
"Interacting with kids will brighten your day," he said.
Beavers said he is "ready to do the part-time" as far as working after retirement. An avid golfer, he plays in the Mississippi Amateur Golf Week Tour, and also enjoys fishing.
Lauderdale County School District's 2013 honorees are: Janet Beavers, 25 1/2 years; Mark Beavers, 26 years; Billy Burkes, 27 years; Gracie Clark, 29 years; Hiram Coker, 14 years; David Darnell, 37 years; Andrew Dean, 6 years; Christine Gaines, 28 years; Lavern Green, 19 years; Lauretta Hamilton, 28 years; Frances Harris, 25 years; Elizabeth Jones, 33 years; Alice Lewis, 24 years; Gail Miller, 23 years; Willie Osby, 24 years; Nancy Partridge, 19 years; Beth Sharp, 29 years; Darlene Smith, 30 years; Deborah Smith, 30 years; James Smith, 7 years; Lois Smith, 13 years; Jacqueline Stamm, 37 years; Marsha Stoddard, 33 years; Mary Stokes, 32 years; Becky Taylor, 36 years; Dwayne Taylor Sr., 36 years; Belinda Walker, 33 years; Crystal Walker, 28 years; Cynthia Watson, 34 years; Shalayne Weir, 32 years; Gregory Williams, 20 years; and Cathy Wright, 39 years.