First-day-of-school retirement celebration provides inspiration, connection

Enjoying retirement, former teachers and staff celebrate the start of Indian River School District’s 2017-18 school year Tuesday morning with a public celebration along State Street in Millsboro. From left: Jamie Doane, Aline Dennis, Debbie O’Neal, Gloria Duffy, Denise Snyder, Laura Minker, Pam Monroe Warrington and Marion Lisehora.

MILLSBORO – A tradition linked to retirement and the Indian River School District’s new school year continued Tuesday morning.

Horns honked and cheers rang out along State Street in Millsboro Tuesday morning during the 4th Annual Retired Teachers’ first day of school celebration.

Eight retirees, all but one with direct staff ties to the Indian River School District, waved to buses and vehicles headed to and from East Millsboro Elementary School and Millsboro Middle School.

Retirees wore themed shirts and held signs, sporting the likes of:

Goodbye Tension, Hello Pension;

Happy New Year;

Good Luck;

Retired Teacher: Oh, Happy Day;

187 More Days, But Who’s Counting;

We’re Retired/Happy 1st Day!

Back to School. Not for Us … We Are Retired!!!

“This is our way of giving teachers … hope!. There is hope. The end is there. You just have to keep going and keep going,” said Debbie O’Neal, a speech therapist for the district who retired in 2014 after 33 years. “The kids love it and so do the teachers that we see. It is always good to give them an extra boost the first day of school.”

“I was a special education teacher at East Millsboro Elementary, for 34 years. So, this is my first year of celebrating my retirement,” said Aline Dennis.

For Denise Snyder, who retired in 2014 from her special education role at East Millsboro Elementary, the annual event serves as a post-Labor Day reunion.

Teacher/staff retirees draw a horn honk as they wave to a bus bound for school Tuesday, Sept. 5 – the first student day in the Indian River School District.

“It is keeping us connected to one another after we all retired. But it also connects us to the school and to the district,” said Ms. Snyder. “It’s funny; the teachers now that we know that are still teaching, they are like counting down … ‘We want to join you!’”

Seeds for what has become an annual retirement celebration were planted four years ago with the retirement of Pam Monroe Warrington. She taught French, Spanish and English as a second language in the Indian River district.

“I wanted to celebrate … and to say, ‘Good Luck,’” Ms. Monroe Warrington said.

Laura Minker, who retired from the Christina School District, was on hand to join a classmate. “I went to East Millsboro. That is my connection. Pam and I went through school together,” she said.

Elder stateswoman honors for the group were claimed by Marion Lisehora, who will turn 86 this month. She retired 20 years ago in 1997. Ms. Minker and Ms. Monroe Warrington were among her elementary school pupils at East Millsboro.

“I taught for 31 years, but I didn’t even start teaching until I was 35,” said Ms. Lisehora. “I’m having a blast. It’s the first day of school. We just love to come out here and wish the kids good luck. The teachers and parents go by, and they get a kick out of it. We love getting up early and getting out here to do it. We can sleep in the rest of the time.”

Ms. Lisehora reflected on the some of those who are part of the annual celebration.

“I taught some of these kids … and now they are retired,” Ms. Lisehora said.

Jamie Doane, who retired from East Millsboro Elementary in 2009, and Gloria Duffy, a former school nurse at the East Millsboro school, were among the celebrating retirees.

“Time goes by. That’s why I was late this morning. I was enjoying retirement life,” said Ms. Duffy, who retired two years ago after 18 years as school nurse. “For me, some of the kids still remember me so that’s kind of nice.”

Thelma Monroe, former Millsboro mayor and Sussex County Clerk of the Peace, lends her support to daughter Pam Monroe Warrington and other school district retirees at their first-day-of school tradition.

Ms. Dennis went out of her way on the way to the group’s gathering spot: the home of Thelma Monroe, former Millsboro Mayor and Sussex County Clerk and mother of Ms. Monroe Warrington.

“I actually still rode past the school this morning just because it is a mixture of feelings,” said Ms. Dennis. “I am glad to be in retirement but also I still love the children and still love the process, the principle of teaching and that kind of thing.”

Once school was in session, the celebration continued with breakfast at Country Kitchen restaurant in downtown Millsboro.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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