VCS Celebrates the Retirements of 284 Employees
Brenda Burgett’s first day of teaching was at Pine Ridge High School – on the day the school opened 26 years ago – and she spent her entire teaching career there.
“I had numerous opportunities to change schools, but this is where I belonged,” said Burgett, a culinary arts teacher and PRHS’ Teacher of the Year this school year. “We came together as a faculty in July (1994) but didn't open with students until October. We were a tight knit group – there was a sense of family among us.”
Burgett is one of 284 Volusia County Schools employees retiring this year.
“Two words for our retirees: thanks and congratulations,” said VCS Chief of Human Resources Mark West. “Every single Volusia County Schools employee, no matter what role they fill, makes a difference for our students. We are grateful to them for their service and wish them the best as they enjoy their retirement years.”
Here are four VCS employees who are retiring after working at their schools since the day those schools opened.
Lizanne Campbell, Sweetwater Elementary
Lizanne Campbell started as a VCS substitute teacher 35 years ago after graduating from Ohio State University and following her dream to move to Florida. She was offered a full-time position at Spruce Creek Elementary, where she taught until Sweetwater Elementary was built in 1994. She teaches kindergarten, providing a loving and solid start for hundreds of little ones over the years.
“My son, Corey, was the first child to be registered at Sweetwater as a kindergartener. I have remained at Sweetwater since its inception 26 years ago!” Campbell said. “Sweetwater is my home just as surely as my house two miles away is my home.”
“I have had the privilege to teach and learn with some of the best administrators and teachers in Volusia County throughout my 35 years,” she said. “It has been my honor to teach and learn with so many wonderful students and their families. Thank you for entrusting me with our most precious gifts for the future…the children!”
Freddie Morin, Pine Ridge High
Freddie Morin has been employed with VCS since August 1975, except for a few years off when her son was little. A graduate of Mainland High, Morin began in the Book Lab, where they prepared library books and educational kits for schools, and later served as a support employee for ESE and school psychologists.
After earning a master’s degree at Stetson, she became a school counselor at the elementary level. She was recruited to be part of the original faculty for Pine Ridge High.
“That was the beginning of the ‘wonder years’ – building, staffing, creating every aspect of a brand-new school,” Morin said. The school counselors helped the students select their classes and set up their schedules, with many evening meetings for the incoming families. “It was all new and special. We were a family getting ready to ‘raise our children’.”
She has had the same office – Building 1, Room 8 – since Pine Ridge opened 26 years ago.
Jim Clements, Atlantic High School
Teaching was Jim Clements’ second career, following 20 years as a U.S. Air Force officer. A chemist, Clements’s first VCS position was at Spruce Creek High, where he taught for three years before moving to Atlantic High.
He has been a science teacher at Atlantic since it opened in 1994 – and has always been housed in the same classroom! His wife, Kathy Clements, is a retired VCS teacher, and his daughter, Kimberly Schandel, is a Math Coach at Champion Elementary.
“We are very much and have been very much a pro-public school and pro-Volusia County Schools family,” Schandel said. “He was an active band parent for us at Spruce Creek, attending every Friday night football game because of our halftime performances. He has fixed the clock tower and the scoreboards at Atlantic. He does the lights and sounds for performances in their auditorium, he teaches Saturday school, he’s the Academic Team sponsor, he’s a VUE steward, the list goes on and on.”
Enjoy this video where Clements shares his full story: https://youtu.be/cnjs7nUprW4.
Brenda Burgett, Pine Ridge High School (continued from above)
As she prepares to enter retirement, Burgett reflected on her career. Society has changed, and teachers must grow and change along with students, she said. Information has to be delivered differently.
“It is a very rewarding profession,” said Burgett. “Your attitude and heart must be in the right place to make it work and stay excited year after year. I wish all new and returning teachers a great year and future. I feel I left a positive footprint at Pine Ridge, and I hope my replacement does the same.”