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Saying goodbye to retiring educators

Retiring S. Ray Lowder Elementary teacher Elizabeth Cline is flanked by 2011-12 student Joe Rhyne and his father Jody, who was her student in her first year as a teacher.



Staff Writer


Lincoln County is saying goodbye to teachers, an assistant principal and a principal as they hung up their hats, graded their last papers and submitted their final round of grades before their retirement following the recently ended school year.

Among the educators leaving county schools this year was Elizabeth “Libby” Cline – former 1st grade teacher at S. Ray Lowder Elementary in Lincolnton. Cline has seen her share of students pass through her classroom, but is ending her career in a similar way to when she started.

Her first year teaching, Cline taught a student named Jody Rhyne at South Aspen Street School in the 70s, which has since burned down. Now, after a 23-year career in county schools, Cline finished her last school year with Rhyne’s son Joe; same family, same teacher, but very different environment than when she began, she said.

“Teaching has changed a lot since I started,” Cline told the Times-News last week. “There’s more focus on technology and assessing, not so much attention is paid on teaching. I had more teacher-student time then; I miss the old way (of teaching.)”

County teachers retiring, by school:


Catawba Springs

James Herndon – 35 years


Love Memorial

Montrose Helms – 30 years

Joy Loan – 30 years

Sheila Rutledge – 32 years


North Brook

Rebecca Childers – 39 years


Pumpkin Center Primary

Max Anne Keener – 28 years


Rock Springs

Mary Zabilansky


S. Ray Lowder

Elizabeth Cline – 23 years

Lynn Crump – 29.5 years


Union Elementary

Bambi Heavner – 30 years

Rebecca Hurt – 30 years

Candy Sapp – 12 years


Kiser Intermediate

Kirby Oldham (Principal) – 39 years


East Lincoln Middle

Janice Lyall – 18 years


North Lincoln Middle

Deborah Frye – 28 years


Lincolnton Middle

Rebecca Wentworth

Michelle Zbytek – 19 years


West Lincoln Middle

Robert Green – 33 years

Mary Beth Sain – 43 years


Asbury Alternative

Donald Goosman – 33 years

Lisa Jones – 32 years


Lincolnton High

Dennis Blair – 18 years

Harriet Dobbins – 37 years

Debra Putnam – 30 years


North Lincoln High

Kenneth Hopkins (Assistant Principal)


West Lincoln High

Allen Hoyle – 13 years

Sidney Hepler is retiring after her work in various English as Second Language (ESL) programs in the county as well.

Open teaching positions have been posted on the county schools website.


Image courtesy of KaAnSuli | Lincoln Times-News

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