Mt. Vernon Register-News

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May 30, 2013

Local educators gather for annual luncheon

MT. VERNON — — Retiring custodian Joe Brown said he looks back fondly on his eight years at Mt. Vernon Township High School.

But it was his time spent as the light and sound director for the school's Theater For Kids and Operetta programs that was the highlight of his service.

“I had a great bunch of kids that I worked with,” Brown said.

Brown and retiring special education teacher Debbie Backes were both honored with plaques at Wednesday's MVTHS End of School Luncheon. Two other retirees, Gary Hatfield and Edna Pierce, were not present.

The luncheon, an annual tradition, is a way to show appreciation for the school faculty and staff who work tirelessly to improve the district, said Superintendent Michael Smith

“It's a great time to just recognize all the hard work and efforts that the teachers, staff, and administration put in each year,” Smith said.

Many aspects of the district are at an all-time high, including attendance and test scores, Smith said. Much of the credit for this belongs to the staff, he said.

“We've been able in these tough economic times to maintain all of our programs and expand those for the kids,” Smith said. “And it's only due to the fact of all these folks here today stepping up to the plate, going the extra mile and making that happen.”

Backes is retiring after 29 years as an educator. She taught special education at the high school for 20 years and before that taught kindergarten and pre-K. She hopes to be a teacher's aide after retirement.

“I've had terrific students and parents,” Backes said. “I've loved every minute of it. I wouldn't trade it for anything.”

In addition to retirees, some district staff were also honored Wednesday with service pins. Kelly Creel received a 20-year pin; and Mark Goodheart, Ronda Wieland and Kent Shaw received 15-year pins. Also, Niki Bauer-Prost, Angela Box, Stacey Simpson and Brian Rightnowar were given 10-year pins.

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