Sandhills Farm Life Elementary School held a retirement celebration and mobile parade on June 1 to honor its retirees.

Principal Nora McNeill retired after 37 years of service with Moore County Schools and was one of the longest-lasting principal at Farm Life Elementary.  She said that she will miss the kids most.

“It’s been the greatest experience of my life to be with the children every day,” McNeill said.

She plans to rest a few months then return to the field of teaching as a volunteer and substitute.

When the surprise monument of the bronze children reading together on a park bench was presented, McNeill embraced the children as if they were real and cried. The monument is a permanent fixture at the entrance’s garden.

Farm Life Elementary School honors principal

The community raised funds to have a monument made and surprised Principal Nora McNeill at a retirement celebration on June 1.

Assistant Principal LoriSue Driessen said that McNeill has loved, cared for and touched over 75,000 families during her reign. One teacher said that McNeill had made her who she was today, and several teachers said that she was part of their family.

“The average teacher stays at a school less than 7 years, but at Farm Life, they stay,” Driessen said as teachers stood to represent years they had served at the school.

Retiring kindergarten teacher Susan Collins was honored with a song sang to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies’ theme song. Teachers had replaced words with accolades of compassion and humor reflecting their fondness of Collins and finished the song with tears and hugs.

Michelle Lester taught grades from kindergarten through third, and teachers who had worked with her took turns expressing their thanks for her mentorship and friendship.

“She’s the bomb!” one teacher said.

The parade completed the retiree’s honors with decorated vehicles and hand-held signs. Honking and shouting could be heard as they approached the round-a-bout, and the retiring teachers exchanged kind words and smiles with the excited children.

Children said, “I love you!” from the open windows, and their shouts traveled down the asphalt as the teachers waved good-bye.

Feature photo: Retiring teachers Michelle Lester and Susan Collins outside Farm Life School with retiring Principal Nora McNeill. 

Article, photos, and video by Sandhills Sentinel Journalism Intern Stephanie M. Sellers.

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