After contemplating retirement for two years, Gwen Rountree finally gave in, ending a 36-year career in education.
Ms. Rountree has been the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources in McDuffie County for the past 12 years. Before that, she was the principal at Thomson Elementary for eight years.
"It wasn't a rushed decision. It wasn't one that I made overnight," Ms. Rountree said. "I just thought that this would be a good departure point."
She said that one of the things she will remember most about being a McDuffie County educator is the way some of her students at TES returned to be teachers in McDuffie County. Also, working with the parents and the community stand out as positives in her mind.
Ms. Rountree also stated that in her current position, she was able to positively impact the quality of teaching in the classroom. That is something she is proud to have been a part of.
McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools Ed Grisham, who is also slated for retirement after this year, often referred to Ms. Rountree as his "right arm" because of the importance he places on hiring the right teachers.
"I'm honored and humbled that I have his confidence and trust," Ms. Rountree said. "It has always been my intent to help where I can, and to do those things that I could do to make this system a better place to work and to learn."
Dr. Grisham praised Ms. Rountree for her service to the McDuffie County School System, stating that hers was "one of the most critical jobs and positions in the system, and she's done it extremely well." Ms. Rountree was Dr. Grisham's first administrative hire after he came to McDuffie County in 1991.
The announcement of Ms. Rountree's retirement didn't come entirely as a shock to Dr. Grisham. He simply expected it to happen after he was gone.
"Quite frankly I was hoping she could stay and see the new (superintendent) in," he said. "I can't argue with her because I'm retiring too...She's been a tremendous asset to the system."
For the first few weeks of retirement, Ms. Rountree said she plans to "take it easy." Later she plans to travel and possibly do some part-time work.
"I truly love what I do, and that has been one of the most difficult decisions that I've had to make," she said. "If something comes my way that I could not say no to, then I guess I'll never say 'never.'"