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Central employee closes books on long career
Payne retiring after 40 years
Payne WEB 1
Janice Payne mingles with friends and family during her retirement party Thursday at Forsyth Central High School. A graduate of what was then Forsyth County High, Payne has worked at the school for 40 years. - photo by Autumn Vetter

A longtime Forsyth Central High School employee was honored Thursday.

Janice Payne, who has worked as the school’s bookkeeper for 40 years, was recognized by her fellow employees and school system leaders during a luncheon at the school.

Central Principal Rudy Hampton said Payne has been much more than a bookkeeper.

“She’s everything,” he said. “She’s everybody’s mom, grandmother, our confidant, our Ann Landers — you name it, she does it.”

Payne was quick to point out that while she’s worked at the school for 40 years, she’s been a part of it even longer.

“I graduated from here in 1962,” she said. “So I was a student here and I also worked for a while as a substitute teacher.”

In her role as a bookkeeper, Payne said she didn’t get to interact very much with students, but she was always kind to them.

“I always tried to remember as many of their names as I could,” she said. “You would be amazed at how much of a difference it can make to a student if you just say hi to them and use their name.”

Staff members also noticed Payne’s kindness.

Teacher Dawn Dirst has worked with Payne for 26 years.

“Kindness is the first thing that comes to mind whenever I think of her,” Dirst said. “And then patience. When you’re the bookkeeper, you have to have a lot of patience.”

Payne said she worked for every principal of the school, even Clarence Lambert who opened what was then Forsyth County High in 1956.

“I’ve worked for every principal because Clarence Lambert hired me,” she said. “I’ve loved them all, but I have to say Mr. Hampton is the hardest working … I bet he walks a billizion miles around the school every day.”

Hampton was equally complementary of Payne.

“There’s been seven principals at Central, and she’s trained us all,” he said.

Payne said she’ll miss working at the school, mostly because of her co-workers.

“I love all the people who work here,” she said.

Payne is retiring in order to spend more time with her husband of 50 years, Robert, who recently had rotator cuff surgery, and her children and grandchildren.

“We’ll keep her busy,” said daughter Kelli Moore.

Superintendent Buster Evans, who attended Thursday’s luncheon, said he knew Payne “largely by her service and reputation.”

“Mrs. Payne embodies what it means to provide outstanding customer service,” he said. “She always has a pleasant personality and is always willing to help in any way.

“She has been the epitome of the spirit of Forsyth Central and Forsyth County High School.”