School Board honors retirees with reception

Published 7:48 am Monday, June 10, 2013

An annual recognition, the Washington Parish School Board’s retiree reception was held before its Monday committee meeting.

As attendees enjoyed refreshments and family members snapped pictures, Superintendent Darrell Fairburn presented certificates to the five retirees who were present at the reception and thanked them for their service.

Lester Anthony was with the system 19 years and was custodian at Franklinton High School. Rosetta Burrell, who provided 38 years of service, was a school lunch employee at Varnado High. A Franklinton Primary School teacher, Jana Stafford retired after 24 years as a system employee.

Sharon Mullings retired after 15 years of teaching English at Franklinton High School, where Fairburn said she will be missed.

Mullings said she came to teaching late. She worked for a telephone company for 20 years, but when its offices closed she had to pick a new career path. She decided to go to college.

She graduated in 1998 and immediately started at Franklinton High, teaching ninth-grade English classes for the past 10 years and English at other grade levels before that.

“I always tried to provide a firm foundation for kids to build upon in their college courses,” she said.

A Bogalusa resident, Mullings said one thing she won’t miss is the commute to work. During her retirement, she plans to spend time with her family and her 2-year-old granddaughter, Chloe Brignac, who lives in Gonzales.

Also recognized was retiree Emma Route, who worked for one year in the Bienville Parish School System and 35 years in the Washington Parish system. Route was responsible for the organization and implementation of the system’s first alternative school.

Previously, those students attended school at night. Route was one of the instructors, and it worried her that the students were out on the streets during the daytime. She said she would hear stories about what they were doing and how they were getting into trouble.

Five years ago, she wrote plans for the school and presented them to the board. Fairburn asked her to take on the program and she did, running with it without much guidance.

“She did an excellent job, and we appreciate it,” he said.

The school was set up in the old Franklinton Elementary building, and an average of 25 students from throughout the parish who had committed various offenses attended. Route was principal, and technology and social skills lessons were provided, along with instruction in every subject.

Parents had to sign their children and out of school each day, and everyone got to know one another. Route said the school was like a family.

“I enjoyed it,” she said. “I was helping them and helping their parents at the same time.”

The program has grown and improved over the years, Route said. In addition to the Franklinton site, there is now an alternative school facility in Varnado that serves students on that side of the parish.

Route said she always promised herself that she would retire once her children were grown and had graduated college and gotten married. She said it feels great to be retired. She is staying busy with projects through her church and various community organizations and is spending time with her first grandchild, almost-7-month-old Solé Vernon.

In total, there were 13 retirees for the 2012-13 school year.

They were also recognized during the board’s regular meeting Thursday.