Ten essential figures in the Macon County school system are retiring this year. Of these, two have served as school principals, one has been personally instrumental in providing Smartboards and other state-of-the-art technology in all Macon classrooms, one has served in a major administrative position, and served in the past as teacher, principal, and coach, five served as teachers until their retirement, and one was a county wide school psychologist.
Four of these teachers served as specific school locations; these are Patsy Rush (30 years) and Shirley Wheeler (22 years), both retiring from Central Elementary, Larry Lee (39 years), retiring from Red Boiling Springs High School, and Sheila Cochran (31 years), retiring from Westside Elementary. “Anytime you have teachers with a lot of experience, they will be greatly missed,” said Ms. Margaret Oldham, Macon Director of Schools.
Faye Fitzpatrick, the fifth teacher, has taught in Macon for 42 years. She taught most of those teaching elementary school reading, and then the last few of those, she served as County-Wide Instructional Leader. Fitzpatrick was honored with the 2013 Teacher of the Year award.
“She’s been an outstanding teacher here in Macon County,” said Oldham. “She has done a great job as a teacher leader in the area of reading. She’s very well versed in her subject area, and for the past year, she’s just been working with the junior high and the high schools in Macon County. She’s going to be very much missed. She was a teacher in the classroom for many years—elementary—and then the last few years she’s been a teacher leader and coach.”
Charles Biles has been 49 years with Macon schools. He retires as Attendance Supervisor for the Board of Education.
“Oh, Mr. Biles has filled so many hats,” Oldham explained. “He has been a teacher, he’s been a principal, he’s been a coach, and his last many years has been here at the central office as Supervisor of Attendance. A lot of people don’t understand what that encompasses. Not only takes care of attendance—where we get our money from—he also is in charge of truancy. Students who are truant, he goes to court with them. He’s in charge of our student disciplinary hearing authority… He’s such an asset to our county and it’s going to be very very difficult for that position to be filled.”
Patricia Ferguson has served county schools for 38 years and is retiring as county wide Supervisor of Technology. “Patricia was a teacher and then for many years, she’s been in the superintendent’s office as director of technology, and she too wears a lot of hats,” said Oldham. “One thing I can say about Patricia, is that this school system is so lucky to have had her in this position, because Macon County Schools would stand up with the top as far as technology in the classrooms. There’s not a classroom in Macon County that doesn’t have a Smartboard. So she should be credited for that.”
Mary Tom Walker has served the county for 40 years as the school psychologist. “She goes out and tests students to see if they qualify for any of the special programs that we offer,” said Oldham. “She is a great asset to the school system, and it is very very difficult to fill this position, so we are going to be offering her a 120-day contract to stay with us for this next school year.”
Linda Smith has been with the county for 16 years and retires as the Principal of Fairlane Elementary. “She’s just a great leader,” said Oldham of Smith. “She cares about the children, she’s very passionate, and consoling and tender with the children, and she runs a really tight ship, but she’s got a good school and a good faculty, and she’s going to be greatly missed.”
Bobby Bransford has been with the county for 40 years and is retiring from his position as Macon County Junior High School Principal. “Mr. Bransford has also been here for many years, and that’s going to be a difficult position to fill,” said Oldham. “Mr. Bransford has really run a tight ship at the Jr. High. He’s brought a lot of fundraisers and money and things to the jr. high, and he’s just a great leader. He has so much experience, not only in teaching and being a leader, but also in the past he’s been a coach.”