The New Castle Elementary School community bid a fond farewell to three long time taechers Thursday afternoon.
Jennifer Peniston, Mary Roberts and Judy Sanders will retire this year after a combined 89.5 years at the school. The trio also takes with them a total of more than 100 years of overall teaching experience.
“We’re just three Henry County girls,” Peniston said.
Peniston, a kindergarten/first-grade teacher of 33 years, was the first kindergarten teacher at Campbellsburg Elementary School. She taught a year and a half at CES and has been at NCES for the 31.5 years since.
“She always wanted to be a kind teacher. Nobody has enjoyed the profession more than her,” Lloyd Peniston, high school sweetheart and husband of 33 years, said. “She cries every year when she loses them to the first grade.”
Jennifer Peniston loved teaching children to read and believes that their joy for learning is contagious.
“I loved it all. The Lord blessed me, he chose this profession for me,” Peniston said. “He has taken care of me.”
As a very family-oriented person, Peniston enjoyed teaching both of her sons and has appreciated the support of her family throughout the years.
“I’ve always had a supportive family; the boys, my husband and especially my mom,” she said.
Peniston plans to substitute teach in the fall, though she recently bought a new camper and hopes to go on many camping trips with family and friends during retirement.
Roberts, a teacher with 34 years of experience, started out at CES as well. She taught at CES for four years, Henry County Middle School for three years and 27 at NCES.
“My favorite part is just listening to their stories and just talking to them,” Roberts said.
Roberts knows she will miss the faculty and the endless hugs and smiles from students when she walked down the hallway. Roberts has not only maintained strong relationships with students, but also with co-workers.
“If you need somebody to talk to, you go to Mary,” Kim Hensley, NCES speech therapist and friend, said. “She’s been my therapist for 19 years.”
Roberts, along with Peniston and Sanders, have impacted hundreds of students throughout the years.
“It’s good I see Mrs. Roberts every Sunday at church because I’m going to miss her because she’s good and nice to me and I like her a whole lot because she treats me a whole lot better than other teachers,” Colt McGuire, NCES student, said. “She’s really, really, really smart and knows how to help kids.”
As a teacher for 34 years, Roberts realized it was time to move on when she was teaching the children of former students.
“You can see (the students parents) as they were when they were young in their children,” she said. “That’s when I kind of knew it was time to move along.”
Retirement plans include sleeping in until she wakes up, reading as many books as she can and to go to the zoo by herself for once.
Sanders, a 35-year teacher, started out at Eastern Elementary School. She taught at Eastern for four years and the rest at NCES.
“I just love to teach; I love the kids,” Sanders said. “They love school, they’re happy and they keep you happy.”
Sanders enjoyed watching students learn and grow. Although teaching 35 years sounds tiring to many, Sanders said that helping children has been her motivation throughout the years.
“I was always glad to get up and go to work,” she said. “I’ll miss the faculty and students, but I won’t miss the stress. I want to go out while they still like me.”
Sanders anxiously awaits her retirement and the arrival of a new grandbaby — due any day now.
“For retirement, I have four things on my agenda — traveling, reading, showing my horse and my grandbaby,” she said.
Sanders, along with Peniston and Roberts, will be missed by co-workers and students alike as well.
“Judy has earned her retirement,” Kathy Roberts, friend and teaching partner of 21 years, said. “When I first came, I hadn’t been teaching that long. I’m hoping that I can pass on to my new teaching partner the knowledge that Judy gave me.”
Although Peniston, Roberts and Sanders will not be returning in the fall as full-time teachers, the impact that they have had on students and faculty will remain.
Also retiring from Henry County Public Schools at the end of the month are Sandra Perry (26 years), Deborah White (four years) and HCHS principal Graham Wied (19 years).
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