Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Celebrates Teachers Past and Present

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Celebrates Teachers Past and Present

Article excerpt

Byline: ALISON TRINIDAD, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

The Nassau County Retired Educators' Association for the first time is sponsoring a communitywide celebration of teachers Sunday, which is Retired Educators Day in Florida.

Members of the 28-year-old organization invited teachers past and present to attend a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. at the Peck Community Center, 516 S. 10th St., in Fernandina Beach. The public is welcome.

"We need to recognize what teachers have done because they're not the best-paid people in the world," said Lauren Clough, president of the Nassau County unit. "They train the smart ones, but they don't get the recognition."

A director of the state Retired Educators' Association will speak, and retired teachers will have the opportunity to reminisce during the ceremony. Artifacts from county schools will be on display, and refreshments will be served.

"I think this is the first time we've had this kind of community fellowship," said Willie Mae Ashley, a retired teacher and renowned community leader. "It's just wonderful."

The auditorium where the ceremony will be held bears Ashley's name, but she said that's not what makes the event special.

"Wherever you have it, it's a part of expressing something for all of us -- the children, the parents, the community, the retired teachers. It just happens to be in that auditorium," she said.

Ashley, who graduated from Peck High School in 1940, began teaching in 1942 at a one-room school in Chester. She returned to Peck and taught elementary education from 1946 to 1969. After desegregation, she started teaching at Southside Elementary School, where she was a guidance counselor until retiring in 1977.

"Although there are a lot of changes, there aren't a lot of changes. . . . Children are still children. They are learning in a different way, but they are learning," Ashley said. …

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