South Carroll secretary retires after 28 years

June 17, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

South Carroll High School without Ruth Shaw seems unimaginable.

Mrs. Shaw began working as the school secretary in 1966 while the high school in Winfield was still under construction.

"I always like to say they built the school around me," said Mrs. Shaw, who's retiring next month after 33 years with the county department of education, 28 of them at South Carroll.

Looking back, Mrs. Shaw considers the year before the school officially opened to students in 1967 as the highlight of her tenure at the high school.

She worked with South Carroll's first principal, Chester Elder, and the vice principal, Harold Thompson, to get the school ready for its opening.

She and her two colleagues were responsible for ordering school furniture, hiring teachers and just about every detail related to the school's opening.

"Now they do all that from the central [school board] offices," said Mrs. Shaw, who describes herself as having reached "full retirement age."

The current administration at South Carroll says it will miss Mrs. Shaw's encyclopedic knowledge of the history and workings of the school. "She's given 28 years of her life to this school; she lives and breathes South Carroll High School," said David T. Booz, who has been principal at South Carroll for four years. "She's always a pleasure to be around, and I think everybody will miss her warm personality."

Mrs. Shaw's official duties as a school secretary included handling the bookkeeping, accounting and payroll, and monitoring student club finances. But South Carroll has relied on her for much more.

Mrs. Shaw assumed the responsibilities of working out details and tying up loose ends at the school.

On Wednesday, a steady stream of teachers came through Mrs. Shaw's tiny office asking for help with a variety of problems. One wanted information about graduation robes and paychecks, another needed to turn in her school keys.

"She knows every aspect of the school and works long, long hours to make sure things are taken care of," Mr. Booz said.

Mrs. Shaw wouldn't miss a South Carroll football game or school play. And her banana split cake and fudge are legendary around the school.

Watching 28 years of students come and go, Mrs. Shaw has concluded that teen-agers haven't changed that much, but their hair and clothes are a different story.

During Mrs. Shaw's first years at South Carroll, she said, "It was an unheard-of thing to wear shorts to school. As for the hairstyles, I can't begin to tell you how they've changed."

While working at South Carroll and living in Taylorsville, Mrs. Shaw has watched her three sons graduate from the school. Twins Robert and Ronald graduated in 1971 and Randall graduated in 1974.

In retirement, Mrs. Shaw plans to travel with her husband, Robert, spend time with her six grandchildren and "just relax."

But she knows she'll miss the strong friendships she has established at South Carroll.

"Everybody here has treated me with such respect," Mrs. Shaw said. "They have confidence in me and we all just get along so well. It's been a real happy association."

Mrs. Shaw's last days at South Carroll have not gone unobserved. A purple and gold banner outside the school offices announces "Ruth Shaw Appreciation Week."

A plaque beneath the clock in the school office honors her years at the school. Teachers and staff members have been bringing her fudge, and South Carroll's 1994 yearbook includes an article on Mrs. Shaw, along with her picture.

Mrs. Shaw is slightly embarrassed by all the attention she's received, but she's enjoying it. "This only happens once," she said.

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