District and school leadership and colleagues alike paid tribute Tuesday night to 13 Carrollton City Schools teachers and support staff who have announced their retirement at the end of this school year.
The Carrollton Board of Education traditionally honors upcoming retirees for their years of distinguished service at its May board meeting. The event was held in the Mabry Center for the Arts before an audience of family and friends who joined in the celebration.
School leaders presented the retirees separately and offered detailed chronologies about their professional lives. Colleagues also participated by providing their own tributes about the people who they worked alongside every day. The retirees and a few words about each are featured below:
MELANIE SHACKLEFORD, Carrollton Elementary School
Melanie Shackleford devoted her working life to three decades in the classroom, serving a wide array of children from students with special needs to the youngest “Tiny Trojans” – pre-kindergarteners – for the past 10 years. Kimberly Rivers, a Pre-K teacher she most recently served alongside as a paraprofessional, said Shackleford’s presence is sorely missed. “She was my right hand and could be trusted with anything – big or small,” said Rivers. At retirement, Shackleford and her husband of 36 years, Jim, moved to Palm Harbor, Fla., where they enjoy the beach and spending time with their children, Sara and Andrew, and grandson Parker.
CINDY CANTRELL, Carrollton Upper Elementary School
Cindy Cantrell has worked for the district for 20 years as a speech-language pathologist, serving children most recently at CUES, but also supported students at CES, CJHS, CHS, and the Burwell program. Prior to Carrollton City Schools, she served schools in Cedartown, Paulding County and Oxford, Ala. A fellow speech-pathologist now retired, Missy Sullivan, had this to say about Cantrell: “She has touched the lives of so many children over the 20 years she has worked here, serving more than 1,200 children and has evaluated too many to count. She is an amazing team player who has always stepped up to help others who need it and has been a fabulous friend and mentor.”
CINDY LAMB, Carrollton Upper Elementary School
A chance meeting with, as she puts it, “a charismatic gentleman by the name of Trent North” at a West Georgia College job fair in 1999 brought Cindy Lamb, a fifth grade teacher at CUES, to Carrollton City Schools and she hasn’t looked back, retiring after 24 years in education. Routinely honored as a favorite teacher by former students during their senior year, Lamb met her husband-to-be, Randy Lamb, while both were students at Atlanta Christian College where he was studying to become a minister. His first assignment following graduation brought him to Villa Rica and Lamb enrolled at UWG to finish her bachelor’s degree in education and later earned a master’s from Piedmont College. “Empathy, patience, kindness – these are some of the characteristics any parent would want in a teacher,” said fellow retiree Tracy Rainwater. “Cindy Lamb has all of these and more. Students who are part of Cindy’s class know they are truly loved.”
JENNIFER GUNNELLS, Carrollton Upper Elementary School
A tireless advocate for students with disabilities truly followed her calling, serving children for three decades as a special education teacher. Jennifer Gunnels first served these students at Central Middle School, but for the past 22 years, she has called Carrollton City Schools her home, primarily working with upper elementary grades. The Carroll County native earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education at West Georgia College and later a specialist degree at Jacksonville State. Her signature passion is Special Olympics and has been honored as Coach of the Year at the state level and served as a coach for Team Georgia in the National Special Olympics. “All you have to do is spend a few minutes in Jennifer Gunnells’ classroom to understand why we are so reluctant for her to retire,” said fellow special education teacher Amy Chapman. “Jennifer has been encouraging students with disabilities to do their best and reach their full potential. She is also a wonderful mentor to student teachers, new teachers and colleagues by giving them the confidence to build relationships and be successful from day one.”
TANYA McCALL, Carrollton Upper Elementary School
Tanya McCall’s first classroom was in the old Alabama Street School 32 years ago before a consolidated Carrollton Elementary School was even built. Her entire teaching career focused on student success in grades 4-6 and encompassed all subject areas. Her mastery of the academics was buoyed by her commitment to developing relationships with her students and their families that she will continue in retirement. “My career has been remarkable because I’ve taught siblings and children of many of my former students, making it so much easier for me to develop relationships with them and their parents,” she said. McCall’s devotion to this work also led to co-author the book, “No More Academics Without Positive Relationships,” with a UCLA professor and his teacher son and she has mentored dozens of colleagues over the years to pass along this passion for people.
TRACY RAINWATER, Carrollton Upper Elementary School
A Trojan since kindergarten, Tracy Rainwater is now retiring after three decades of teaching – and remained a Trojan the entire time. Over her career, Rainwater taught fifth grade for 20 years, fourth grade for eight, and spent the past year teaching sixth grade. A graduate of West Georgia College with two degrees, she began her career at Alabama Street School as a brand-new teacher the year before it closed and gratefully lists a slate of colleagues who mentored her, now all retired. A current colleague, Freddy Bennett, now passes this torch of appreciation: ”Whether it be as a teaching partner or the teacher of my daughter, Tracy Rainwater has been such a joy and a blessing to work with,” he said. “When I was a young teacher, she always shared her thoughts and feelings on education as a whole and always offered great advice. Even now after so many years, I value her wisdom as well as her support as a colleague.” A sage reflection she shared as she approaches retirement is this: “It’s definitely true what they say – ‘the days are long, but the years are short.’”
KIM HUNGERFORD, Carrollton Junior High School
As CJHS Principal Travis Thomaston noted, social studies teacher Kim Hungerford is “a kid magnet who is beloved by students from all walks of life.” This statement is supported by her success as a cheerleading coach and sponsor of the school’s Student Council, where she guided students on how to lead the school community and affect positive change. A graduate of Georgia State and the University of West Georgia, she received the UWG Outstanding Mentor Award in 2016 for supporting and guiding many aspiring educators throughout her 17-year teaching career. Retired social studies teacher and former colleague Janis Stallings said Hungerford “can reach students no one else can. They will confide in her when they won’t talk to anyone else, because they trust her. Her energy and enthusiasm kept her students hungry.”
SALLY INGUI, Carrollton High School
CHS Career Center Specialist Sally Ingui never went far from home during her 30 years in education, with the final 15 guiding students at her alma mater. The West Georgia College graduate’s background as an administrative assistant gave her the flexibility to wear many hats over the years – as a superintendent’s assistant, payroll manager, and overall student advocate. In reflecting on her career, Ingui said, “The brightest spots were being present when students would share the college acceptance they had hoped for, had received scholarships, big or small, and the honor of watching them graduate in May.” In her time at CHS, Ingui served as a sponsor for multiple honor societies and served as a liaison between the school and the community. “She is gracious and kind, always a team player, and has made our office a joyful place to work,” said CHS Assistant Principal Courtney Walker. “You will never catch Mrs. Ingui without a smile on her face.”
MIKE LEWIS, Carrollton High School
Former CHS graphic arts teacher Mike Lewis retired after 25 years of service. He started the program for CHS in 1996 and kept the program industry-certified during his entire tenure. He also served as the school’s riflery coach and yearbook sponsor. CHS Assistant Principal and CTAE Director Elizabeth Sanders noted Lewis developed strong relationships with his students. “During Lewis’s time as a teacher he still received golden apples (annual recognition from upcoming graduates) from previous students due to the impact he made on each student who walked in his classroom.”
RUTH WILLIAMSON, School Nutrition
After three decades working in the manufacturing realm, Ruth Williamson chose a second career literally serving hundreds of children each day as a member of the district’s School Nutrition team at three schools over her 12-year tenure – CES, CUES and CJHS. Director Laura Malmquist noted Williamson, who retired before the end of the school year, said “she especially misses the kids as she loved seeing them smile as they came through the line.” Malmquist said Williamson was also instrumental in developing the garden bars featured at the three schools and took great pride in keeping their appearance appealing and fully stocked. Williamson is actively involved in community endeavors, too, and is especially committed to the Carpenters for Christ ministry, and is looking forward to helping repair and rebuild homes this summer in Kentucky.
ROBBIN SMITH, School Nutrition
“The cornerstone of the CES cafeteria for the last 28 years,” as one colleague noted, is now happily retired, sitting on her front porch watching the world go by. Jane Raburn said Robbin Smith is missed, but that she’s glad “she is enjoying her much-deserved retirement.” Prior to joining the school system, Smith worked at Lamar Manufacturing Company for 14 years, but when the plant announced it was closing, she heard about an opening in School Nutrition and was hired by the consummate director, Nita Barr, now long since retired. “I found a common theme when talking to Robbin’s former managers, Jill Horsley and Keila Carter,” said current Director Laura Malmquist. “Both shared that Robbin was a hard worker, dependable, and always took care of other people.”
SUSAN BUTTORFF, Transportation
Susan Buttorf, affectionately known as “Butter,” is now enjoying retirement after driving a school bus for the district’s Transportation department for more than 11 years. Director Montrell McClendon said Buttorff wanted to drive a school bus into her 80s, but her health had other plans “or she would still be behind the wheel today,” he said. “I really enjoyed her breakfast and dinner. Man, could she cook! I think she was ‘buttering’ me up and I didn’t even mind.” He said Buttorff was dependable and always willing to help, even keeping a bag packed in case she would get a call to drive an overnight trip somewhere. “She also didn’t mind telling you what she thought,” he said. “Her favorite line was ‘– and another thing.’”
SUZIE STANDIFER, Central Office
As an administrative assistant who served five principals and four assistant superintendents, Suzie Standifer knew deeply the inner workings of school administration and handled its challenges with gusto and grace. In her last assignment as administrative assistant for the assistant superintendent of Operations, Standifer handled the complicated details of major construction projects, keeping the chaos down to minimal interference. “Behind her quiet, calming spirit lies a drive to be successful in whatever she does,” noted colleague Pat Reynolds. “She would come in early and stay late to get the job done. As a friend, Suzie has the gift of making you feel special and is always there to support and help with whatever you need.” Standifer said her time at Carrollton City Schools was “a truly wonderful season in my life” and that the education it provided her three children was exceptional and for that she is grateful.