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APS Retirees Honored at Star Studded Luncheon

by Allison M. Slocum

Achieving professional milestones are the benchmarks to which one measures their success, impact and legacy. This year, Atlanta Public Schools was proud to honor 131 employees who crossed the ultimate milestone of retirement, leaving indelible impressions on students, their families and the communities they call home.

In celebration of this occasion, APS hosted a luncheon in their honor on June 7 at the Georgia Aquarium to recognize their tremendous contributions to the district and thank them for their loyal service to Atlanta’s youth. Channel 2 Action News reporter and anchor, Linda Stouffer, emceed The Silver Star Luncheon which featured entertainment by The Headliner Band.

Superintendent Dr. Lisa N. Herring shared words of gratitude on behalf of the employee population expressing the importance of their tenure at APS.

“Whether you labored in the background as teachers, administrators, support staff, bus drivers, or supervisors; you have made a difference in the lives of so many,” Herring said. “And today, your contributions are being lifted high to showcase your unwavering commitment to putting our students and schools first.”

Atlanta Board of Education Chair, Eshé Collins, also commended the retirees for their devotion to the district.

“Your commitment to our mission is why our students are succeeding,” said Collins. “Please know that we can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for APS over your years of service.”

Fondly called Silver Stars, the APS retirees were each recognized by name and gifted a commemorative trophy as well as two tickets to an Atlanta Falcons football game and several other tokens of appreciation.

Major Highlight — Among those in attendance were five standout Silver Stars whose service to APS spanned over 35 years. They are as follows:

  • Lorene Irvin retired from Bolton Academy with a remarkable 39 years of service! She is the most seasoned Silver Star for 2023.
  • Mary Willoughby has an impressive 38 years of service and retired from Midtown High School.
  • Joan Wyman retired from Brandon Elementary and has dedicated 37 years of service to APS.
  • Tilford Ellerbee also has been at APS for 37 years and retired from Douglass High School.
  • Velma Mathis is the third Silver Star this year to retire from APS with 37 years of service. She ended her career at Hutchinson Elementary.

Notable Mention — Others of note recognized for their trailblazing and legacy-filled contributions to APS included:

  • Felisa Ford retired from the Chief Academics Office and was instrumental in bringing the first ever Esports Pipeline Program to APS, as well as the APS Minecraft Student Ambassador Program. Today, the program is global and is run by Ford, along with fellow colleagues for the Minecraft Education Team.
  • Yolanda Faison has served her APS career as an educator at Humphries Elementary School and has been blessed to teach the children of many former students, impacting the lives of generations of families.
  • Olivia Waller-Hall retired after 32 years of service at APS and belongs to a familial lineage of APS retirees which include her mother who served 42 years, her husband who served 24 years, and several family members, including two sisters, aunts and cousins.

A Touching Moment — Of Dr. Herring’s heartfelt remarks, perhaps the most touching included a quote by a notable American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet.

“I’m reminded of a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. ‘Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.’ Remember that retirement is a fresh start. It is a chance to make decisions that position you to become a shining light and beacon in new and different places.” – Dr. Lisa N. Herring, Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools

Celebrate With Us — APS family, join us in congratulating our Silver Stars by saying thank you to the educators retiring from your school or the colleagues that have co-labored with you throughout the years.

A photo recap of the 2023 Silver Star Luncheon can be found below.

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