WEST ELKTON — Preble Shawnee’s West Elkton Intermediate School celebrated Secretary Betty Marr on Wednesday, April 18. Marr has been a staple of the school community for the last 50 years and she turned 85 years old a week prior.
Fourth grade teacher Mandy Rike explained, the school wanted to recognize her 50 years of service and dedication to the community.
“She has worked here for 50 years and we just wanted to celebrate that. Her 85th birthday was last Friday as well. Marr has been such an integral part of our building and our district and we wanted to recognize that,” Rike said. “Seeing her long career is very inspiring because of the longevity of what she has done and the impact that she has had on everyone.”
The party was a complete surprise for Marr, who had a speech dedicated to her from Principal Kyle Morton.
He said, “We have all the staff here and some other folks to recognize your years of service. First of all, I want to say a couple things on behalf of the staff. To me, it is a real honor to be able to do this. You have worked for so many outstanding principals, for me to get to do this is really an honor.
“I asked [Marr] to put a few sentences together for me, because I wanted to know what it was like when she started compared to now. In Betty fashion, she went all out, so this is a little more than a few sentences, but it is very interesting.”
He read, Marr started working at West Elkton in 1967. She discussed what the school day was like to her, sharing that teachers and staff got to eat for free. The office was bare, with only one typewriter. Most teachers used a chalkboard to write their lessons. There were no school fees for the students and students brought supplies in the office. There were not many teachers and some days high school students had to watch over the students, according to Marr
“Pay was very low, my pay was so low that I took my checks and put them in the drawer without bothering to cash them. The school treasurer called me, asking me to cash my checks so she could balance the books,” Marr wrote. “Teachers called me if they wanted to call off for a day. I had teachers call me at 4 a.m. and say that they literally did not want to come to school.
“Why did I stay? I guess I just felt sorry for all those children and the grave students who loved teaching well enough to stay. They sure did not get paid enough. They had no planning period, no lunch time, and were expected to be on duty from the time school began to when it closed.”
“Now the schools have computer labs, well stocked libraries, an abundance of equipment and more,” she continued. “Students and teachers have no idea the hard conditions the schools had to handle just a few short years ago. We have come so far and will continue to press on for a better education experience for students.”
Marr was presented with several gifts from staff and Preble Shawnee administration. She said, “I don’t know where to start. I am shocked speechless. Looking back over the years and thinking about all the memories, it is unbelievable how everything has changed.
“I’m just so appreciative that the lord has given me strength, given me health, and a good mind. This has been a very good place to be with good people.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH