CRESTVIEW — As the school year ends this week, so will the careers of several retiring teachers.
Northwood Elementary School on Sunday showed its appreciation for five retiring teachers as friends, family and colleagues honored five long-time educators — Martha Barton, Susan Diven, Sheila Holloway, Pat Houston and Dianne Jones — at the Crestview Community Center.
Attendees could leave gifts and personal notes of best wishes at tables dedicated to each teacher. Cake and punch were provided along with music from two members of Crestview High School’s jazz band.
It was a celebration of each teacher’s commitment to serve north Okaloosa County’s children, organizers said.
"We wanted the community to come and celebrate with them," said Adrienne Hansen, a committee member and literacy coach at the school. "All of these ladies have been teaching for 30-plus years...
"Whoever comes in behind them, they are going to have really big shoes to fill.”
Chuck Cosand, a volunteer mentor, said Barton’s suggestion persuaded him and others to work with students after they retired.
"She is a very caring, very devoted teacher," he said of the volunteer coordinator. "She asked a lot of us to come back for one more year and so we did, just because of her."
Susan Diven — who spent her entire 36-year teaching career at Northwood — said she now plans to focus on family.
"I plan on spending more time with my grandchildren and traveling with my husband, Jerry," she said.
Holloway said she would miss a career inspired by two educators in her family — her mother, Sarah Rodgers, and sister-in-law, Renee Rodgers — and praised the school’s current staff.
"As the years progressed, I have met and learned from the best," she said in an email. "It’s been an awesome journey.
"The impact of seeing these dynamic teachers would change the minds of those who have negative opinions of our public education system.”
Houston said she will "miss the smiling faces of my students and their eagerness to learn."
Dianne Jones, who has spent the last 26 years in the school district, agreed.
"When the lights come on for a student, it is wonderful to watch them grow and move forward," she said in an email.
Fifth-grade teacher and former Northwood student Ashlee Van Dyke said Barton’s and Diven’s classes left an impression.
She remembered “Diven's dollars,” where students could earn and spend class currency in the classroom store.
She also recalled a memorable Mother's Day tea party in Barton's class.
"I was in the second grade and my mother got the time wrong ... I was heartbroken," Van Dyke said.
When her mother arrived an hour late, other classmates had gone to lunch. However, Barton allowed the pair to have their own tea party.
"She took her own planning time for me and my mom," Van Dyke said. "To know that you are cared about and loved — that’s the kind of teacher I want to be."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.