Nearly 70 employees from all aspects of the Forsyth County school system were honored Thursday as they prepare for retirement.
Superintendent Buster Evans thanked the administrators, coaches, custodians, educators and others who have helped mold the school district over the years.
“The average educator impacts the life of at least 1,000 students directly,” he said. “You’re talking about 75,000 students who have been impacted by the people who we are honoring today.”
Among those educators is Jerry Cauley, who has been teaching in the county for three decades.
Cauley spent his first three years at the then South Forsyth Junior High, now South Forsyth Middle School.
He then moved to Forsyth County High School, which would become Forsyth Central, where he has remained.
Cauley’s been a physical education teacher and coached girls basketball, softball and golf at the school in Cumming. And for the last decade, he has served as the Bulldogs' athletic director.
“When I got out of high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew it had to be something to do with sports, being a sports junkie,” he said. “So I majored in physical education and recreation and it just led to this.
“It’s been a pleasure. I’ve been blessed to be in such a great place, that’s for sure.”
Like Cauley, Cheryl Roberts has been with the school system for a long time. Her 32 years have all been spent at Chestatee Elementary School in northeastern Forsyth.
“It started out as a small community,” she said. “Things have really grown, but I love the kids.”
During her career, Roberts said she’s taught several generations of the same families, and has even worked with some.
It’s the community, but also the staff that has kept her loyal to Chestatee for so long.
“It’s just a really close faculty,” she said. “Everyone watches out for and takes care of everybody. You couldn’t ask for a better staff.”
This isn’t the first time Coal Mountain Elementary School head custodian Gene Chambers has left a career.
The 82-year-old has held many titles in his work life, which includes 20 years in the poultry business and 10 years as the owner of a mom-and-pop grocery with Inez, his wife of 63 years.
“Everybody said I was too young to retire after I sold my grocery store, so my plans were to come on down and maybe work five, six years -- something like that. And it just kept going,” Chambers said. “The more I worked, the more I enjoyed the work.”
It’s been 21 years since he first took on custodial duties at Coal Mountain. He’s seen a lot of new faces over the years.
“We began to have turnovers in principals and they all kept saying, ‘You can’t leave now, you know more about this building than we do,’” Chambers said.
He obliged as long as he could. “But at my age, the work in the summertime is just a little too much,” he said.
Chambers said he’s got some house work to catch up on in his retirement.
For Cauley, the world is his oyster.
“Whatever I do it will be something that I can set my own hours and it’ll be something different,” he said. “After 33 years, it’s time for a new chapter in life.”