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Educators Leave Impact

Throughout the history of Prince George’s school system, some of the most talented and widely loved educators in the state of Virginia have passed through the halls of the high school. As another outstanding wave of educators contemplates retirement, the past, present, and future is on their mind.

Guidance Director William Havard has been in education for 43 years. Havard has decided to retire this year. Photo by Lindsay Pugh.
Guidance Director William Havard has been in education for 43 years. Havard has decided to retire this year. Photo by Lindsay Pugh.

For head guidance counselor William Havard, deciding to leave after 43 years of working with students is not an easy decision.

“Because of the fact that my wife has many physical problems [spinal cord], I really feel as if it is time,” Havard said. “It isn’t easy saying good-bye after 43 years in the business, though.”

This challenging decision to retire has caused Ha- vard to reminisce about the change that he has encoun- tered in the building throughout his tenure here.

“My first year here was very different mainly be- cause of the faculty members,” Havard said. “I have seen many of my dear friends and colleagues retire as the years have passed.”

Joining Havard in retirement are administrators Tracey Smallwood and Janie Williams, administrative assistant Dianne Overstreet, and teachers Buddy Darby, Tonya Mahaffey, and Wilson Whited.

As these revered staff members prepare for the next step in their lives, they are trying to keep in mind the most memorable aspects of being a part of the school family.

“The part that I will remember the most is the sup- port of my colleagues and the vitality of my students,” Whited said.

These faculty members, who will be remembered for their respective positive impacts on this school, also leave with indelible marks on their hearts.

“Working with the students and seeing so many of them graduate and become productive citizens of so- ciety is what I will most definitely remember the most about working here,” Williams said.

Accompanying them into retirement is their irre- placeable experience that has been multiplying over the years along with their knowledge and skill of teaching and interacting with the students each and every day.

“My first year teaching here I had no support, they just gave me a book and said teach,” Darby said. “But over the years, I have gained support and tips from the teachers.”

This wealth of classroom and educational knowl- edge is only found in a rare number of people, making it even harder to see these faculty members retire along with their skills and expertise.

“I have learned lots and lots of tolerance and pa- tience since becoming a teacher,” Mahaffey said.

While the present can be nostalgic, the future is promising and exciting for these soon-to-be retirees.

“I plan on working part-time and spending more time with my family,” Whited said. “I also hope to travel some and pursue numerous interests and hobbies.”

Others have no definitive plans for their post-educa- tional lives.

“I do not have set plans,” Mahaffey said. “I am a member of the Petersburg Art League so I might volun- teer there.”

After 43 years of public education, plans for after re- tirement can be difficult to make. Optimism and creativ- ity is essential though.

“I plan on looking for some divine inspiration on what to look for next,” Havard said.

Principal Tracey Smallwood has chosen this year to conclude her 33-year career in education.

“The staff is my family so after I told Dr. Browder [I had decided to retire], I thought they should know also,” Smallwood said.

Smallwood called the staff in for a meeting Fri. after- noon, May 2nd, and let them know that she was retiring effective the end of July.

Over the span of her career, Smallwood has learned how to be an effective educator and leader.

“I have learned a lot about myself, I [have] learned a lot about human nature and I have learned a lot about life in general,” Smallwood said. “I will miss the smiles, laughter and interaction with the students. I will miss go- ing to the different activities, reading the paper, being interviewed by TRN, and being here everyday with the students.”


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