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Board celebrates retirement of county educators

It was definitely a celebratory atmosphere at the Butler County Board of Education’s boardroom on Tuesday night. It wasn’t just the end of another school year; it was the beginning of another chapter in the lives of the school system’s new retirees.

Schools superintendent Amy Bryan, along with fellow school system retirees Jerome Antone, Joyce Buskey, Mike Bass, Kathy Pickens, Sheila Brooks, Debbie Poff, Freddie Brady, Litta Norris, Shirley Diane Thomas, Johnny Mack Brown and Kandys Killough were honored with gifts and a full buffet-style meal before the BOE meeting.

While some of the retirees were out of town or otherwise unable to attend, Bryan, Antone, Buskey, Brady, Norris and Brooks were on hand to pose for group photos. They each introduced those special people present, from actual kith and kin to those with whom they have bonded in their years with the system.

“You–you are all my family,” said Bryan as she extended her arms to encompass the many smiling faces looking back at her.

Later, during her superintendent’s report that routinely rounds out the board meetings, Bryan took the time to express her appreciation.

“The only thing I have to add is a great big ‘thank you.’ What a nice, wonderful night we’ve had. I’m not sad. I’m excited. And I want to thank you for the opportunity—and for your support,” a visibly emotional Bryan said.

“I think it’s so important that we have homegrown teachers and administrators within our system, and here’s a case in point. Both Brandon [Sellers] and I went to school with Amy,” said board president Michael Nimmer.

“She graduated from here and came back and started out as a teacher and went from there . . . when she started here as superintendent, there was some issues going on and she was the one person who could take on some of those issues and in her own way, sort of sit back and take it on the chin for our school system, I would not have done that. I would have fought back a little against some of the people who were mad at us. I just have to express how grateful I am to her.”

Board member Lois Robinson, said she was “new to the board, but not to Ms. Bryan” and described the outgoing superintendent “as a pleasure to work with at each juncture.”

Bryan started her career in education in 1988 as an English teacher at Greenville Middle School, where she served for three years, followed by a 10-year stint teaching English at Greenville High School. She then became a central office administrator for grants and federal programs for 13 years, capping her career with three years as superintendent. With a year’s worth of sick leave accumulated, Bryan has served 30 years within the same school system.

“This is why we encourage our teachers, especially the younger ones, to get those administrative certifications, so they can move from teacher to administrator within our system,” said board member Brandon Sellers.

Bryan was presented with gifts from the board by member Linda Hamilton, who also shared an amusing poem welcoming the grandmother-to-be (daughter Lauren is expecting twins) to the wonderful world of retirement.

“You are one of the most dignified people with such a caring heart, that I have ever met,” Hamilton said. “And of all the things, that is what I most admire about you. You are a woman of dignity, and class and a pure heart. And I am really going to miss you . . . but I also look forward to seeing you pushing those little grandchildren around.”

Greg Griffin of the McKenzie Quarterback Club was also on hand to  present Bryan with a commemorative plaque on behalf of McKenzie School.

“It’s been so nice to have a superintendent that you could work with, that you didn’t have to fight with . . . she always listened, and I will take that everyday and twice on Sundays,” Griffin said.

Nimmer said Bryan always made time to listen to the concerns of anyone, be it board member, administrator, teacher, parent or student.

“And that always impressed me . . . never once did she say, ‘I don’t have time for you.’”