Jenny Corbin only decided a couple of months ago that she’s ready for retirement after working as a teacher aide in the Riverhead school district for 44 years.
She was humbled to learn that her tenure was the longest out of the 39 retirees honored Tuesday night at Riverhead High School.
“It was time to go,” Ms. Corbin said when asked why she decided to retire, adding she felt “a little happy; a little sad” during the retirement party.
Ms. Corbin was the last retiree honored and received the only standing ovation as school board president Sue Koukounas outlined her accomplishments at Pulaski Street School.
“Her positive attitude and hard work ethic has been appreciated by all,” Ms. Koukounas said. “She is always willing to assist the students, faculty, parents and staff.”
Ms. Corbin also produced plays and organized educational activities for Black History Month, Ms. Koukonas added.
Other veteran educators honored Tuesday included Aquebogue Elementary School teacher Robert Shilling, who was named the Riverhead News-Review’s 2015 Educator of the Year for his dedication to his students. In particular, Mr. Shilling helped meet the needs of his student Gabriel Dispenziere, who has eosinophilic esophagitis.
“I feel like I’m leaving the kids in good hands,” he said, adding his retirement plans include a trip to Hawaii this winter.
Many of the retirees described the evening as bittersweet since they’ll miss working in the district as they enter into their golden years.
“Friday will be hard because it’s the last day of school and I’ve become friends with a lot of teachers,” said Donna Mae Atkins, a senior clerk typist who decided to retire after 30 years. “I won’t see them again in September.”
Like Ms. Atkins, retired elementary school teacher Meg Eilers, who worked in the district for 28 years, said she’ll miss the staff but is also looking forward to taking trips on a sailboat she and her husband fixed up over the last year.
“It’s bittersweet and really hard,” she said. “I’m ready, but I’m really going to miss the people I work with.”
One of the reasons many of this year’s retirees said they decided to retire was because the district offered a retirement incentive, which was created in order for the district to present a budget under the roughly $483,930, or 0.5 percent, tax cap levy cap.
Earlier this year, school officials estimated the district is expected to save more than $2 million in 2016-17 since over 30 teachers have accepted the retirement incentive offer.
As Ms. Corbin reminisced about her career, she said she’ll cherish her last few days working in Riverhead as she prepares to visit friends and family in Mississippi and the Carolinas.
“I’ll miss working with the students,” she said. “And I’ll always love my co-workers.”
Click on the images to enlarge photos. Scroll down to read the school board’s recognition for each employee.