By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Retiring Tupelo High School science teacher Bea Ford fought tears on Thursday morning as she recalled her 33-year career as an educator.
“I’m a little overwhelmed,” Ford said shortly after the school district honored her and 19 other retirees during its annual end-of-the-year celebration. “I’m really going to miss being here.
“I’ll miss the love we feel on this campus. I’ll miss being called Momma Ford by students.”
After sending out students on the last day of school on Wednesday, the district held its celebration for teachers on Thursday at Tupelo High School’s Performing Arts Center.
The ceremony traditionally ends with the district’s newest retirees taking the stage and ringing hand bells to mark the year’s close. This year, those educators had a combined 566 years in the profession.
The hour-long celebration had a light-hearted feel. First-year Superintendent Gearl Loden added a “Goldie” awards ceremony as a play on the Academy Awards. It featured video clips of district administrators acting goofy – such as Lawndale Principal Brock English dressing as Barbie, Milam’s Travis Beard leading the Harlem Shake and Pierce Street’s Kenny Goralczyk performing a worm dance.
“We wanted it to be fun,” Loden said. “The teachers and administrative team have worked well and worked hard, and we wanted today to be a fun-filled send off.”
Joyner administrative assistant Jana Kidd won L.D. Hancock Award, given to an employee who exemplifies the caring and giving attitude of its namesake. The Association for Excellence in Education also presented several teachers with Innovation in the Classroom awards.