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Forsyth County Schools honors retirees
WEB Sheila McNeil is retiring from Cumming Elementary School
Sheila McNeil is retiring from Cumming Elementary School. - photo by Kayla Robins

FORSYTH COUNTY – Just as students must graduate to the next grade or phase in their lives, educators and school employees also cannot remain forever in halls decorated with art and academic accomplishments.

At least 80 people were honored at a ceremony Thursday for their retirement from Forsyth County Schools, and the group spanned teachers and bus drivers to principals and technicians.

“I get asked all the time why Forsyth County Schools is so successful,” said Superintendent Jeff Bearden at the Board of Education building to retirees, their families and co-workers. “It’s about the people.”

Debbie Sarver said she always knew she wanted to be an educator.

“It was always the way for me,” she said.

Sarver taught for nine years in other districts before spending six years as an assistant principal at a number of schools in Forsyth.

She then served as principal at Midway Elementary and South Forsyth Middle before opening Lakeside Middle School in 2009. She has been there ever since.

Sarver said she plans to move to Washington to become a principal at a middle school.

“I’m going to miss everybody,” she said.

One retiree has been with the district – and one school – for 35 years.

Leisa Smith taught kindergarten, first and second grades at Coal Mountain Elementary School. She began teaching at the campus in north Forsyth the year it opened and, having accepted the job immediately after graduating from the University of North Georgia, has never worked in another school.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Smith said. “Before I was a teacher, I played teacher.”

She said she will miss the day-to-day with her students.

“It’s always something new and different,” she said.

Bearden said the adults in schools, no matter in what capacity, are the most important factors in developing a successful child.

“I hope you enjoyed the people you worked with and you were happy,” he said. “Because when you’re happy it translates to our students being happy.”