Shenandoah County Public School Retirees Honored
Knowledge, Experience, and Expertise Cannot Easily Be Replaced or Replicated
2014 SCPS Retirees

"A teacher affects eternity.  He can never tell where his influence stops."    Henry Adams, Historian

"The title on your badge does not matter.  All of you are teachers who have made a positive impact in the lives of our children."              Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent

Photos by Betsy Bushong  

Twenty-eight employees of Shenandoah County Public Schools were recognized at the school division’s annual retirement reception held on May 14 at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School.    Dr. Raley, Superintendent , described the evening  as  an opportunity “ to pause and reflect  on the accomplishments of twenty-eight of our employees” and  “to celebrate their awesome work and dedication.” 

     These twenty-eight retirees have worked in public education “for a total of more than 650 years with an average of over 23 years’ experience in education,” noted Dr. Raley.  “This level of knowledge and expertise cannot easily be replaced.  This level of dedication is not easily replicated,” said Dr. Raley.  

2014 Retirees
  Back row, left to right:  Larry Ambrose, Donna Alicoate, Barry Arey, Fred Weaver, Calvin Stuart, Nelson Borden, John Richman 
   Middle row, left to right:  Diane Lam, Debbie Kipps, Barbie Kipps, Mary Sue Lawhorne, Connie Richey, Ginger Corcelius, Patty Snarr, Mary Helsley, Julie Wilkins
    Front row, left to right:  Nan Alcott, Steve Galton, Carol Felton-Pence

    Not pictured: Pam Porter, Vicki Miller, Daphna Clem, Bonnie French, Lori Goodine, Shirley Colvin, Richard Joseph, Robert Ward, and Kathy Hedrick  


Though this year’s retirees have served Shenandoah County Public Schools in a variety of positions including carpenter, secretary, teacher, administrator, technician, driver, and in other capacities as well,   Dr. Raley told the group that they had all been educators.  “You are educators who have provided our students with opportunities to learn from your guidance, direction, and expertise. “

He reminded the retirees of historian Henry Adams words:   
"A teacher affects eternity.  He can never tell where his influence stops."

 “The title on your badge does not matter,” asserted Dr. Raley.  “All of you are teachers who have made a positive impact in the lives of our children.”     

Dr, Raley read a summary of each retiree’s years as an educator including successes, humorous anecdotes, favorite expressions, colleagues’ comments, and poignant memories.  Retirees received a bell with his or her name and years of service, a book with the articles about each of the 2013-14 retirees, and a life-time pass to Shenandoah County Public Schools’ athletic events.

With a laugh, Dr. Raley shared the phrase comedy writer Gene Perrett used to  describe  retirement:  "doing nothing without getting caught at it."

 “I wish you years of enjoyment,” Dr. Raley concluded.   “Best wishes as you transition into this next chapter in life’s journey.”   

Retirees are  pictured/listed by school.

Ginger Corcelius

Ginger D. Corcelius
Instructional Assistant
Ashby-Lee Elementary School
Years of service to SCPS - 21 years

Ginger Corcelius has been at SCPS for 21 years and in special education for all 21 years.  She worked for the FBI in Washington, D.C. for 8 years prior to coming to education.  She says that she has worked with and adjusted to many different teachers at ALES.  She has enjoyed them all and learned something from each and every one of them.  From time to time, Ginger will talk about all of her different experiences in education and may say, “You cannot make this stuff up!”


 Barbie Kipps

Barbara M. Kipps
Ashby-Lee Elementary School
Years of SCPS Service - 40 years


Barbie says that she felt like the luckiest girl in the world on her 22 birthday, when she was hired to fill Vicki Zerkel’s 1st grade position the following year.   Her first year was at Triplett Elementary School.  She loved first grade but always wanted to teach kindergarten.  She had that opportunity the next year when ALES
opened.  She actually wore a hard hat to visit the school and her classroom.  She has been in the same classroom at Ashby-Lee since the school opened!  

She says that she thinks it is fair to say that when when you’ve worked at the same school side by side with your twin sister, it’s a clear indicatio that you love your job! 
Barbie describes kindergarten children as sponges.  If you provide learning opportunities and present the materials on their developmental level they will absorb the information.

She has served on ALL the committees that have been at Ashby-Lee: math, language arts, Title 1, science, social studies, PTO, social, and numerous that do not exist anymore.  She helped write the first kindergarten curriculum, design the first kindergarten report cards, updated the kindergarten report cards, correlated the SOLS with the report card, and lead Math Their Way workshops throughout the county.  One of her biggest thrills was winning a Debbie Diller room make-over. However, she didn’t realize that the room make-over would be the same day as Meet the Teach.  It was definitely a memorable moment in my career.  It was teachers working together to clean, organize and totally rearrange a kindergarten classroom with lots of stuff.  This was both exciting and exhausting but proved what she already knew about her colleagues.  She could not ask for more supportive friends than her Ashby-Lee peers.  

Besides being a mom and wife, teaching has been the longest chapter of her  life.   She leaves with sadness and happiness.  She will miss her peers and their silly but well-meant comments and she will certainly miss the children.

 She is excited about the next chapter of her life because she gets to continue being a mom and wife, and will be a full time “gammy” who will keep her granddaughter Sophie and get to visit her other granddaughter Evela whenever she wants.  

As wonderful as her life promises to be, she will always smile when she think of her years at ALES.  Barbie says that she believes that she could not have picked a more rewarding career!


 Debbie Kipps

Deborah M. Kipps
Ashby-Lee Elementary School
Years of Service to SCPS - 40

According to Debbie, she hired herself when Dr. W.W.  Robinson was superintendent and Tom Snyder was Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources.  She was called on graduation day at Madison College. In case some of you don’t know your history, Madison College is now JMU.  She got so excited when Mr. Snyder  called; all she could remember was screaming and hanging up!   The day she went to the school board office to meet Mr. Snyder, she remembers walking in and actually standing at his desk.  He said, “You know… you haven’t been hired yet”.  However, I was never formally interviewed.  

He took her to meet Mr. Waldo Bowers, principal at Woodstock Elementary, which is now the current school board office. They talked at the counter, and then he invited her into his office for a few minutes.  Mr. Bowers gave her a tour of the school and her classroom; a trailer located behind the school!  Mr. Snyder later told my sister, “She hired herself.”  

Her advice to future job seekers:  scream and hang up when called for an interview!  You just may land a job!

She says that she’s not ready to retire, but she knows in her heart it is time to leave ALE.  She realizes that she could be the mother of most of her colleagues.  She has been reminded many times!  Someone once said, “You are older than my mom!”

Debbie says that she is not sure where forty years went!  Teaching has not only been her career, but it has been her hobby!  Her sisters and family have always worried about her retirement.  She says that there is no need to worry because she is not retiring from teaching, only public education.  She will be beginning a new “teaching” career at Reformation Lutheran preschool with Kathy Gangwer. Yea!  Her love and hobby continues!

Debbie explains that two quotes have been most meaningful in her work with students:

"Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love."  David McCullough

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." -- Benjamin Franklin




Pamela M. Porter
Food Service Manager
Ashby-Lee Elementary School
Years of service to Public Education:  12 ½  
Years of service to Shenandoah County Schools:  8 ½

Pam substituted on the southern campus before she came under contract as a full time employee.  Pam also helped with many banquets and special functions at Ashby Lee.  She will also be remembered for fixing beautiful table arrangements and decorating the kitchen.

Pam’s most famous line is "always remember to put your lips on after every meal."  She is also known for saying “Taste first!! Then Presentation, Presentation, Presentation!”  “Could use a little salt... but can’t do that.”  “One straw boys and girls; the juice is a cup!” “What’s taking you all so long?”  “The lights out, no talking." “You would not believe what movie Linda took me to!” “Always use a pretty plate to take food to a covered dish dinner;" and “Let me tell you what Momma said or did!”

Pam liked trying new recipes. The only problem was that her colleagues were her guinea pigs!  Her colleagues tell a story about one time when they were making rice and Brenda Mason went to check on it and stir it,  and Pam started screaming “No, no, don’t stir the rice!!”

Pam, what about the time that you were sitting at Candy Dispanets desk doing time sheets and out of nowhere you fell out of the chair.  Everyone thought you might have hurt yourself, but the next thing you know, you busted out in uncontrollable laughter.  Everything was o.k.

Pam, you will be missed.  Thank you for your patience and words of encouragement.  There a lots of time when your colleagues would think, “What would Pam do?”  It was a pleasure working with you, and we know that you will be able to spend more time with your family.


Vicki L. Miller
Central High School
Years of service in SCPS – 10 years

Vicki has been a dedicated member of the Central High School staff.  Her efforts and work ethic are recognized and appreciated by the entire staff.   The staff at Central High School send you best wishes in your retirement.  Your colleagues say that it has been a pleasure having the opportunity to work with you and wish you the best in your retirement journey.

One of your co-workers writes, “Wishing you the very best in your new journey in the years to come.  May it be filled with many rainbows, laughs and joyous moments.  Best of luck.  Enjoy your retirement”.


 Patti Snarr

Patricia D. Snarr
Central High School
23 years of service to Shenandoah County Schools
7 years in Winchester City Schools

Prior to working in Shenandoah County, Patty worked for the Winchester City Schools where she worked at Virginia Avenue and John Kerr Elementary within the Intellectual Disabilities classroom.  She then moved to Daniel Morgan Middle School where she again worked with students with intellectual disabilities.

After taking off seven years from school to raise her three boys, she began her career in Shenandoah County at Edinburg Middle School where she continued her work with students with intellectual disabilities.

After leaving Edinburg, Patty worked at Signal Knob Middle School.  David Brill then encouraged Mrs. Snarr to apply for a special education opening that was available at Central High School.

Ms. Snarr has been both the teacher of the Year at Signal Knob Middle School and the Teacher of the Year at Central High School.  Both of her parents were educators.


Patty Snarr played an instrumental role in the development of our successful job coach program which now provides on the job training to our students with disabilities at 74 employment locations in our community!  Patty’s leadership has allowed this program to be the envy of other school divisions across the Commonwealth!  Best wishes in your retirement!


Daphna C. Clem
Food Service Worker
Sandy Hook Elementary School
Years of service to Shenandoah County Schools:  13 ½


Daphna has worked at Sandy Hook her entire contracted years with SCPS.  She also served as a substitute on the Northern Campus before she was contracted as a full time employee.  Daphna helped with many banquets and special functions throughout the years.

Daphna is described as a  hard worker.  When there were banquets at Strasburg High, her and her colleagues would have to carry all the food to the old gym and not get finished until 10:30 or 11:00 pm and she never complained.

Sharon Pritchett tells a story about her first day of work and when Daphna saved her.  She had a tray of food in her hand and tripped over an electrical cord and bounced off the oven and burnt her arm.  Daphna caught the end of the tray which saved me from hitting the floor.

Daphna likes to tell stories and one she just recently told was about when she was first married and learning how to can food.  Both she and her sister-in-law used a butchering kettle and glass jars outside which meant they had to keep the fire going at least 4 hours per product they were canning.  She definitely likes how canning is much, much easier now. She also loved to watch TV stories in the afternoon with her sister-in-law.

Daphna has been an excellent, dependable employee in her years with food service. She will be missed very much. 



 Lori A. Goodine
Sandy Hook Elementary School
Years of service to Public Education:  19 years              
of service to Shenandoah County Schools:  11 years

Ms. Goodine has been an active member of the Sandy Hook Community as well as a valued teacher.  She participates in professional development, not because  it is an expectation, but because she is a lifelong learner and she wants to continuously grow as a teacher.

Over the course of her tenure at Sandy Hook, she has worked to provide a learning environment that meets individual student’s needs and helps to promote a love for learning.  She has also been committed to providing high expectations for the children in her class both academically and behaviorally.

Her colleagues state:

Lori is the sweetest person.  She is so loving and caring with her students and colleagues. She puts her whole heart into her work and into projects with her class.  She is the most creative teacher I know and she has contributed so much over the years to our team for enrichment ideas.  She is always willing to share her great ideas! Lori's dedication, hard work, caring heart, and creativeness will be greatly missed next year!

Lori is the type of person who never quits learning.  Even after announcing her retirement, she is still collaborating with her teammates on how to improve her lessons.  She is a team player who looks out for others.  When I moved to another grade level, she often came by my room to make sure I was doing okay.  She's full of warmth and energy, and I am going to miss her greatly.

Thank you, Lori, for your years and service to Sandy Hook Elementary School!

Nelson Borden

Nelson C. Borden
Signal Knob Middle School
Years of service to Shenandoah County Schools:  11

Nelson is going to be missed by all. He will do anything that is asked and does not complain.  Don’t be surprised if you catch Nelson talking about fishing.  Nelson loves to fish!

One of his co-workers explains, “Nelson is one of the best people I ever worked with and he is a great friend.  I will miss him a lot.”

Another co-worker says, “Nelson always does his job cheerfully and with good humor.  I don't think I have ever seen him in a bad mood.  Even when the cafeteria is a mess, he takes it all in stride”.

Nelson is a thoughtful, gentle soul.  On our many snow days, in addition to the numerous clean up tasks he had, he always took the initiative to plow a path to the flag pole and to the bird feeders so that the students could get to them easily.

Nelson is described as a positive force in the school.  He is like a ray of sunshine first thing in the morning.  He has a smile for everyone, and he always has something positive to say.  He is eager to help when he is needed and goes above and beyond making sure that teachers have what they need in order to have a successful day.  Nelson is an amazing person, and he will be missed.

SKMS has been fortunate to be paired with a man as kind and calm around children as Nelson Borden.  Nobody has ever witnessed him get angry or upset.   One colleague says, “When there is a strange problem that has the rest of us wondering how in the world such a thing could happen, Mr. Borden is right there asking how he can help”.

Thank you, Nelson, for everything that you have done for Signal Knob!


Julie Wilkins

 Julie T. Wilkins
Stonewall Jackson High School
Years of service to Public Education and SCPS:  40 years (all at SJHS) 

 Julie Wilkins has been employed as a teacher at Stonewall Jackson for 40 years, but many may not know that Julie was a student at Stonewall Jackson, did her student teaching at Stonewall Jackson, and has only taught at Stonewall Jackson.  

Julie has been both a teacher and a coach at SJHS.  Among her accomplishments as a coach are:

Group A State runner-up:
Tennis-1994 doubles
Group A State Champions:
Track-1976,1979, 1980

Julie has the ability to maintain a sense of humor.  Her colleagues give her a grade of A+ in that grading category.  Julie has a unique sense of humor.  It was not uncommon for her to get uncontrollable laughing fits during faculty meetings.  

On the other end of the spectrum, her colleagues would give Julie gets an F in technology literacy.  Julie will be the first to admit that she is NOT in any way, shape or form literate with regard to technology.  Her colleagues explain that she has a regular list of faculty members to go to for help every grading period when grades are due or when she needs to attach a document in an email.  One time she called on a colleague to help her because her computer locked up.  The colleague was trying to patiently explain to her about using Control+Alt+Delete to get to the Task Manager to close the program that was locked up… When it became clear that there was no way Julie was ever going to understand, the colleague said to just hold the power button in until it shuts down.  Irritated and frustrated, Julie barked “So in other words, just turn the stupid thing off!”

Thank you, Julie, for all of your years of dedicated service to Shenandoah County and the students of Stonewall Jackson High School.


Shirley A. Colvin
Car Driver
Transportation Department
Years of service to Shenandoah County Schools:  7 years

Shirley Colvin excelled in the service of transporting our students with disabilities over the last seven years.  Her dedication and superior teamwork with her aid and the students she served was evident as one of our most challenging students that she transported transformed into her front seat helper with a yes Ma’am answer when addressed.  Her superior skillset was utilized daily over an extended private school calendar that was longer than our school division calendar.  Shirley unselfishly transported a student not assigned to her daily run from Strasburg to Woodstock to meet another driver in the both the morning and in the afternoon to shorten the day for another run.  She completed this effort for years.  Shirley Colvin is an exceptional driver and a team player who will be missed.  We all wish her great success as she transitions into retirement.  


Richard W. Joseph
Bus Driver
Transportation Department
Years of service to Shenandoah County Schools:  11 years

Rick Joseph has served the students, families, teachers, and staff of Shenandoah County for the last 11 years.  His superior skillset was utilized on extracurricular trips as well as during the school year as he operated a school bus covering over 118,800 route miles during his career.  He added to this total with all of the additional driving he completed during the day, nights, and weekends.  Rick is an exceptional driver who will be missed and we all wish him great success as he transitions into retirement.  It’s not really retirement, more semi-retirement as Rick still serves our athletes on the Southern End of the county as needed on a part-time basis.



John M. Richman, Jr.
Bus Driver
Transportation Department
Years of service to Shenandoah County Schools:  14 years  

John Richman has served the students, families, teachers, and staff of Shenandoah County for the last 14 years.  His superior skillset was utilized on extracurricular trips as well as a daily route.  John operated his school bus covering over 108,000 route miles during his career, and added to this total with all of the additional driving he completed during the day, nights, and weekends.  John is an exceptional driver who will be missed and we all wish him great success as he transitions into retirement.

Donna Alicoate

Donna L. Alicoate
     Triplett Business & Technical Institute 
Years of service to Public Education:  30 years
Years of service to Shenandoah County Schools:  10 years

One of her professional accomplishments is the publication of  “Curriculum for Computer Based Instruction” for Invest for the State of Texas.  In the 1990’s, she served on the Committee that developed state testing for Texas Education System

Donna has worked in teen leadership programs and led a teen parenting group.

Donna is known at Triplett Tech as the “Books R Fun” Queen!  She keeps us all updated on this important subject.  Donna’s colleagues say she develops strong relationships with her Alternative Education students and lets them know she cares.  She celebrates her students’ successes with them and shares their disappointments especially when they do not pass their GED tests.

Thank you, Donna, for your commitment to education in Shenandoah County!

 Larry Ambrose

Larry L. Ambrose
Triplett Business & Technical Institute
Years of service to Public Education and SCPS:  19 years 

Larry Ambrose began first ASE/NATEF nationally accredited program at Triplett Tech and also began student VA State Inspection program at Triplett.  He has been a Virginia TIE Lead Teacher for 12 years and brought the AYES program to Triplett Tech.

Larry just might be the only teacher in our school division that occasionally drives his tractor to work.  Larry keeps every Triplett Tech faculty and staff member’s vehicle up and running.   He only hopes that everyone will make it to school after he retires.

According to Larry’s colleagues, he always has a story to tell about any situation.  No matter what the topic of conversation in the teacher’s lounge, Larry has a humorous story to share.  Larry is to be commended for having the best networking skills of anyone in the industry.  He is well known in the automotive repair business not only in our community, but also at the state and national level.  Everyone in the auto tech world knows Larry Ambrose!


Barry Z. Arey

Barry Arey – Principal/CTE Supervisor
Triplett Business and Technical Institute
Years of service to Public Education and SCPS:  37

For 37 years Barry Arey has called Shenandoah County Public Schools home.  He has been a teacher, a coach, assistant principal, principal, and central office administrator, but most of all, Barry has been a friend. He is loved by students, staff and his administrative colleagues. Always able to put a fun spin on things, NO ONE can turn a simple presentation into an elaborate musical or dance production like Barry. As one colleague put it; if you were writing a book about Barry, one chapter might be titled, “Barry Arey, the Man, the Myth, the Musical”. Another chapter in his book would be, “Barry’s How to Dress for Success Using All the Colors in the Rainbow ----AT ONE TIME”. Still yet another chapter might read, “Barry’s Guide to Redesigning Your Golf Swing Like Never Seen Before ----and HOPEFULLY NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN”. However, the most accurate title would probably be, “BZA – A Professional Career of Doing a Little Bit of Everything to Help Everyone”.  


That’s Barry Arey – always open and willing to help others.  That’s one reason why he has done so many different things in the school division.  One of his fellow administrators says “He can very often be seen wearing many hats all at the same time --- bright colored hats --- held together with glowing duct tape!,”


Staff who worked with Barry for many years said this about him…

BZ is a simple man. He is a Virginia Tech and Triplett Tech fanatic. He dresses in yellow and green, EVERYDAY.   He loves hotdogs and orange jello. He uses a VT mug for drinks, all drinks – ALL drinks; held together with, of course, duct tape.


Needless to say Mr. Arey is unique! Barry has become an institution of knowledge that will be difficult to replace.  More irreplaceable though will be Barry’s contagious energy and enthusiasm for the people with whom he has worked. Within and beyond SCPS, Barry is highly regarded for his knowledge and expertise.  We have all always enjoyed Barry's speeches -- except when we’ve had to follow him.  I’m glad that I don’t have to do that tonight!  


I do suggest being careful what you say when you call him though. I’m convinced he does not know how to use a phone if it is not on speakerphone. Every time I call him the first three minutes are spent saying hello to everyone else in the room!  Sometimes I just want to say, “Barry, can you just pick up the handset and take me off speakerphone!”

Barry, thank you for 37 fantastic years of dedicated service to Shenandoah County Public Schools. You will be missed.


  Robert E. Ward, Jr.
Triplett Business & Technical Institute
Years of service to Public Education and SCPS:  11 years

Bobby Ward dedicated 11 year to providing instruction to students at Triplett Tech in auto body and collision repair.  Students would work on their own cars as well as the cars the members of the community needed to repair.  They’ve even done some work for me.  A visit to his classroom will reveal students banging on fenders and painting elaborate graphics on not just cars, but boats, trailers, and anything else that moves.  Using the I Car curriculum, Bobby has provided his students with hands on learning experiences that they will be able to use as they enter the workforce.  

Thank you, Bobby, for your work in Shenandoah County.

Nan Alcott

Kathleen "Nan"  A. Alcott
W.W. Robinson Elementary School​
​​​​​Years of service to Public Education:  24 
Years o
​​​f service to Shenandoah County Schools:  12

Did you know that Nan is a published author.  She wrote an activity book for preschoolers.  Nan also serves on the Special Education Advisory Committee for the school division is trained in the Competent Learner Model conducted by the division, and serves on the child Find Team at the Preschool Center and with community-based services at Presbyterian Preschool

Did you also know that Nan previously taught special education students in Maryland and locally for Head Start and that she is an accomplished seamstress and makes curtains  to decorate the Preschool Center.

Nan is the person at the Preschool Center that everyone depends on to get the job done right away.  When others want to postpone jobs until the next  day, she insists on plugging through it that same day.

The child find staff  has memorable stories they can’t repeat, but some remember when she would not take no for an answer on a home visit, continuing to knock on the door of a reluctant parent until she agreed to let her work with her preschooler.

After retirement Nan plans to spend more time with her family members in Texas and  Wisconsin. With her large family, including husband John, and their 6 children there will plenty of children and grandkids to keep her occupied.  Best wishes in your retirement, Nan!


Kathleen Hedrick

W.W. Robinson Elementary School
Years of Service in Shenandoah County:  27

Kathy spent many years at WW Robinson working as a reading specialist and a Reading Recovery teacher.  Kathy loved her students and worked hard each day to help them to make academic gains.  Kathy is most remembered for her understanding of the whole child.  She wanted each child to learn the necessary academic skills, but she also wanted them to learn necessary life skills as well.  Kathy took this role seriously, and in turn, developed caring and dynamic relationships with all the students with whom she has worked.  Kathy is an exceptional writer and worked diligently with students in all grade levels to improve their spelling and writing skills.  

Colleagues share their love of working with Kathy and her great ability to always make them laugh!

Masry  Helsley-

Mary S. Helsley
W.W. Robinson Elementary School
Years of service to Public Education and SCPS:  36 years, 5 months

 Mary served her entire career teaching students in Shenandoah County.  She began her career with a mimeograph machine and a piece of chalk and ended her career with a computer and Smartboard – what a change!  Her colleagues explain that Mary has a dynamic relationship with her students and colleagues.  She is very focused on meeting the needs of individual students – both academically and emotionally.  She says that she considers herself lucky to have served with so many dedicated colleagues.  She enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate together, joke together, and on occasion, complain together!  Colleagues respect Mary because of her quiet and calm demeanor.  Many are also in awe of her artistic abilities.  Mary has definitely left a lasting impression on her students and her colleagues!
 Diane Lam

Diane A. Lam
W.W. Robinson Elementary School
Years of service to Public Education and SCPS:  39 years

Diane served her entire teaching career in Shenandoah County.  Along with her husband, they served Shenandoah County for a total of 69 years!  Diane liked working in Shenandoah County so much that she even retired from education and came back to it.  Diane says that she felt teaching is what she was called to do with her life.  Colleagues praise Diane for her helpfulness and knowledge of instruction and classroom management.  All speak highly of her professionalism and contributions to their team and the students.  A little known fact about Diane is her incredible ability to play the piano; she is also an avid gardener and preserves a lot of food she eats.  Diane grew up on a farm and is very devoted to her parents, who are both still living.  She is most proud of her children and her late husband, whom she refers to as the “love of her life.”

Mary Sue Lawhorne

 Mary Sue Lawhorne
W.W. Robinson Elementary School
Years of service to Public Education and SCPS:  33 years

After graduating from Radford University in May of 1981, Mary Sue was hired by the Shenandoah County Public Schools two weeks later to teach 5th grade.  The county was implementing the “new” middle school concept and would be opening Edinburg Middle School (5th and 6th grades) and the Woodstock Middle School (7th and 8th grades).  Mary Sue got a phone call from Mrs. Jane Gaidos, the principal at Edinburg, to come to the school to meet and talk.  When Mary Sue arrived, Ms. Gaidos realized she did not have a key to the school!  After a very heart-felt apology and a few good laughs, Mary Sue and Ms. Gaidos sat on the front steps of the school and discussed Mary Sue’s role as a 5th grade middle school teacher.  Mrs. Gaidos told Mary Sue to “write this down in your book of memories because it will hopefully never happen again!”  Mary Sue and Mrs. Gaidos had a very great working relationship after that day!  She says that she can still remember walking into her first classroom, a portable, with absolutely no furniture or teaching supplies and thinking, “Wow, I have finally made it!”  One of Mary Sue’s greatest accomplishments is the ability to get married, raise two children and accumulate 200 SICK LEAVE DAYS!!!


Calvin Stuart 

Calvin P. Stuart, Jr.
W.W. Robinson Elementary School
Years of service to Public Education and SCPS:  26 years

Calvin began his employment career with Shenandoah County on June 6, 1988.  He has worked as a custodian in three of our schools during his career – Strasburg High School, Central High School and WW Robinson Elementary School.  Calvin is a hard worker who takes pride in his work and the school.  He strives to ensure that classrooms and hallways are clean each evening in preparation for school the following day.  Staff members comment that Calvin is pleasant and respectful at all times; he comes to work to do his job and to do it well.  Of all of Calvin’s accomplishments, the thing Calvin enjoys the most about his job is being around the kids.


Carol Felton-Pence

 Carol J. Felton-Pence
Preschool Coordinator
Central Office
 Years of service to Public Education:  34

Carol Felton has been the architect and passion behind Shenandoah County Public Schools’ outstanding Early Childhood Special Education program.  Our award winning program was built on Carol's clear vision of what a quality program for young children with varying disabilities would require.  With the preschool program, she established and expanded inclusive options for preschoolers with disabilities in the schools and community.

          Carol initiated services for at-risk preschoolers in the division.  Starting with the screening process then moving to full and comprehensive evaluations, Carol was able to offer a full array of programming services matching the individual needs of children in an age appropriate and culturally diverse environment. An environment which included normally developing peers as role models.  She also established community-based programming with private preschool programs. With tuition assistance through an annual grant she wrote and part-time placement of our teachers in these programs, Shenandoah County Public Schools has provided a quality of educational and remedial services that are unparalleled.  Carol’s most recent accomplishment has been her coordinated efforts to establish the Division’s first Preschool Center.

          With her daily guidance, ongoing training of staff and parents, and a well-maintained collaborative process, our ECSE program became a model that school divisions from across the state came to observe.  Divisions that came to observe would then take back ideas to implement in their own school divisions.  Carol's talent, vision and leadership were also recognized by the Virginia Department of Education who asked her to present at many state-wide conferences.

          Carol will be greatly missed by our ECSE paraprofessionals, car drivers, teachers, school administrators and central office administrators and other agencies. What she has established in our school and community is an incredibly diverse service offering a many layered program routinely meeting the needs of children with varying disabilities.  From children with speech and language delays to serious emotional disabilities to medically involved, to intellectually delayed, to autism and even to children with a combination of several of these disabilities, the program she envisioned and made real has served them all.

Thank you, Carol, for making a difference in the lives of our community’s students!



Steve Galton

 Steven P. Galton
PC Technician
Central Office​​​​​
Years of service to Public Education and SCPS: 15

Colleagues explain that they always appreciated Steve’s positive, uplifting attitude and spirit towards his job, colleagues, and life in general.  One could always count on a smile, handshake, and warm greeting from Steve.  He is a shining example of how we are to treat and serve others.

It was always about serving others first for Steve. He always wanted to please everyone and that is why he was so popular and respected in our school division.  Colleagues write that we were blessed to have Steve in our school division.

One of his peers also explains, Steve is just a good man. He is always positive and ready with a warm greeting.  He sees and respects the good in others, even if it is hidden under a gruff exterior.  He is a man of faith who is an example of what we are called to be and how we should all treat each other.       

Another of his colleagues describes him as invaluable.  He was already ready to hear our next crazy idea and take on a challenge for the service of students and teachers.  He worked from a “Why not? Let’s give it a try approach” never from a “It can’t be done.”  That willingness to take a risk and try something new was what I valued and will miss most about Steve.  

 He cares so much about each person as an individual.  He works on your computer and wants to make sure it is fixed and working to your satisfaction.  But even more importantly, he stops to ask how you are doing as a person and passes along a smile and kind words before he heads out the door for his next service call.  “Service” - From the word ‘’serve”.  What a perfect word to describe Steve.  He doesn’t just service the computer, he comes to serve the person.

In describing Steve, one of our employees notes:  What could you always expect from Steve: - a kind word, - his time, no matter how busy he was - a “Good Morning”- always taking care of technology problems but never forgetting the “human” at the computer – a listener and advisor - a positive outlook - treating everyone with respect - making people feel valued - commitment to his job, beliefs and doing what is best for students and teachers.

Best wishes in your retirement!


 Connie Richey

Connie Richey

Central Office
30 years of service to SCPS

Connie Tisinger Ritchie began working for Shenandoah County Public Schools in March, 1984 as a Child-Find Coordinator/Secretary within the Pupil Personnel Services Department. Throughout her 30 years of service to Shenandoah County Public Schools, Connie constantly embraced new challenges and continued to increase her own knowledge and skills. In 1996, Mr. Chip Belyea wrote that “Connie has been a major and positive influence in the computerization of our operations. On her own, she has taken classes in computer technology and has initiated several different computer programs.” This commitment to increasing her skills as the job and demands changed has been seen throughout her career.  In addition, Connie has been generous about sharing her time and talent, serving as a mentor to Special Education secretaries in Warren and Rappahannock, and more recently serving as a mentor and resource for both the region and state in Medicaid reimbursements.

During the 2008-09 school year, Connie’s duties changed. She divided her day between coordinating  Medicaid benefits and serving as an Administrative Secretary to the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. She also provided support to the Human Resources Department.  In this position, which continued until her retirement at the end of June, Connie again acquired new skills and knowledge, implementing and maintaining Eduphoria, a professional development, tracking the division professional development budget and she assisting in many other areas.  

As was stated by Mr.Belyea in 1998, “Connie brings many valuable skills and initiative to her position which contributes greatly to our department’s success.” In 2014, that statement remains true.  The constant support and willingness of Connie Ritchie to acquire and apply new skills to enhance her performance of additional job duties has contributed greatly to the success of Shenandoah County Public Schools.

 Fred Weaver ​​​​​​​​

Fred Weaver
Maintenance Technician
Central Office
Years of service to Shenandoah County Schools:  17 

During his 17 years with us, Fred was assigned to the maintenance department as a carpenter.Fred worked on maintenance and repairs of all doors, hardware, cabinets and other duties as assigned. Fred was responsible for upgrading our carpentry shop and turning it into an actual work–friendly space! Fred was the first carpenter to keep an inventory of common hardware, lumber, locks, etc. on hand for everyday use. Fred could operate and drive any piece of equipment we had here at the shop. Backhoe, skid loader, dump truck, box truck, shovel….he could handle any piece of equipment that he can in contact with!

Gene Dykes, Supervisor of Maintenance says, “Fred was one of the best and most knowledgeable carpenters I have ever met or been around. His dedication to his job was unsurpassed and the department and division will certainly miss him. He was the most punctual employee I’ve ever had and was never late and he never missed a deadline on a work order.He was always willing to lend a hand with anything that you asked of him and he was always open to learning new things and teaching things to others”.