School division bids farewell to nearly 10,000 years of service

The year was 1965. The Vietnam War was escalating; the space race was in full swing; the Rolling Stones were performing on a world tour; and Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston to claim the heavyweight championship of the world.

That same year, Allen Johnson began working in the school division’s plumbing shop.

Fast forward 51 years, Johnson and 401 other school division employees were being celebrated for their careers at the Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Annual Retirement Dinner, which was held June 22 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

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“I look out and I see the innumerable differences you all have made for our students, for your colleagues, for your employees,” said division superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence as he addressed those in attendance. “This division would not have been the same without you; our successes would not have been possible.”

For Johnson and others, the dinner was an opportunity to reflect over decades of service.

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“There have been so many changes over the years,” Johnson said. “We started meeting in a little old portable building each day and that has been replaced by a state-of-the-art facility as school plant.”

Sarah Robinson, a 40-year teacher from Alanton Elementary, knows who she will miss the most.

“The children; absolutely, the children,”: she said. “ I love my colleagues, but it’s the children that make this such an awesome career. It has evolved. When you first walk in you think you prepared until you actually start teaching. And they don’t teach you in college things like cleaning noses, tying shoes, wiping tears. But as you get better at it, it all comes very natural.

Husband and wife Tom and Peggy Kern both elected to retire this year. Tom, who has taught for 41 years, said that there could be benefits to the two of them retiring at the same time. “We really didn’t plan it that way. Circumstances just happened, but it could be a benefit because now neither one of us can make a big list for the other to do since we are both going out the same time,” he joked. “We’re looking forward and going to find our way.”

After 38 years of teaching, Peggy is equally excited for the future.

“Our daughters have all finished their schooling so they all have jobs,” she said.” Now we have an empty nest so we’re going to do some traveling and just visit families and do fun stuff.”

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The retirement dinner is hosted each year by the school division’s Department of Human Resources. Also responsible for the maintenance of employee records, staff members were able to calculate some incredible statistics for the 2016 retirees. For example, this year’s group of retirees collectively amassed 9,689 years of service, which means the average years of service from each retiree was 24.

Congratulations to all the division’s retirees, and see photos from the event on the school division’s Facebook page.

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