Retiring school personnel have varied plans

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By Ron Benningfield

 Several LaRue County School personnel have announced their retirements. They hale from Hodgenville Elementary School, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, LaRue County Middle and High Schools. Below, they shared fondest memories, career highlights, and other information.



Karyn Brey

Even at an early age, Karyn Brey knew she wanted to be a teacher. 

“I admired my teachers through the years and wanted to be like them,” the HES reading Intervention teacher and ALES/HES gifted/talented coordinator said.

The Hodgenville native acted on that admiration, graduating from LCHS and Western Kentucky University where she earned a bachelor’s, master‚’s and Rank 1 in elementary education.  

During her 29-year career, all at LaRue County, she has taught third through fifth grade regular classrooms, 4/5 split class, and also served as an itinerant gifted/talented elementary school teacher.

During her first years at HES, teachers taught all subjects, including art and physical education.

“We had one planning period a week, and that’s when the students went to library,” she recalled. “We were with the students all day long, even during lunch.”

She remembered how excited the teachers were when they received their first computer in their classrooms to be used for word processing (long before the Internet came to be).

“The printers had the papers in rolls which were always jamming or continuously shooting the paper through into piles on the floor,” she said. “We had no air conditioning during those first years, so we would have four or five fans running in the rooms, and would frequently have class on the front lawn under the shade trees in the hot afternoons.”

“My fondest memories would have to be of all the great people I have taught with and learned from through the years, and the students I have had the privilege of teaching,” she added. “I still get hugs from former students ages 5 to 40, and love to hear their success stories.”

She is looking forward to travelling more, and being able to go any time of the year.

“I want to spend more time with my family, and will probably be seen back in the schools occasionally,” she said.

She and her huband’s (Jack)  son, Joe Kelly, is an occupational therapist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. Their daughter, Kristyn, is a registered nurse in the trauma unit at UK Hospital in Lexington.


Penny Cecil

Penny Cecil began her 29 years in education as a Title 1 reading teacher at Buffalo and Magnolia elementary schools.

After spending some 13 years teaching kindergarten through third grade and five years as a writing resource teacher, she became principal of Hodgenville Elementary School.  She finished her career as a curriculum specialist working with both elementary schools. 

The 1981 LCHS graduate earned her bachelor’s and master‚’s degree in elementary education and her Rank I in educational administration from Western Kentucky University.

Even as a sixth-grade student, she knew she wanted to work with children in some capacity.

“I remember telling my principal, Terry Sandidge, that I wanted to have a day care center,” she recalled. “It wasn’t, however, until about my sophomore year in college that I decided to enter the field of education.”

One memory that stands out for Cecil is the day HES welcomed her as the school‚’s new principal. 

Glen Rice, interim principal who had been Cecil’s elementary teacher, escorted her on a red carpet of bulletin board paper from the front door of the school into the gym.

Amid welcome signs, posters, and music, she took Rice’s arm to walk into the gym where she would greet students and staff for the first time.

“With all the pomp and circumstance, one of the kindergarteners asked his teacher, ‘Is Mr. Rice marrying her?’” Cecil said.

As for the future, she and her husband, Terry, have two businesses that keep them busy. I’m looking forward to being able to spend more time with him, as well as the rest of my family,” she said. “I’ve always said I want to retire early enough to learn something new and I’m not one to stay home, so who knows what I may find to get into?”


Carol Henry

Special education teacher Carol Henry, who was born in Sonora, attended Magnolia Elementary until her family moved to Louisville when she was in third grade.  

She returned to LaRue County in 1990, and has 15 years’ teaching experience, including14 in LaRue County.

She made her decision to enter the teaching field in 1993.

“My children were practically grown and I decided that I needed more to do,” she said. “Since I had always been active in the school serving as room mother and volunteering on my off days to read to students who were struggling with reading, I asked myself why not make teaching my new career.”

She attended Sullivan University where she earned a bachelor’s in business administration with accounting concentration. 

“After graduation, I subbed in LaRue, Bullitt, Hart, and Jefferson counties,” she said. “During this time, I realized that I really like working with special education students so I decided to go back and get certified in this area.”

That decision led to her receiving a bachelor‚’s degree in elementary education with middle school math endorsement and a fifth-year Rank II in special education from Western Kentucky University. 

A highlight of her career occurs each time “I finally see the light bulb come on in students’ minds as they suddenly understand a concept.”

One of her fondest memories deals with teacher fellowship – and a dead goose. 

Unbeknownst to Henry, a goose she had struck on her way to work one morning at Hodgenville Elementary School had become entangled in her car’s grill. Gail Jackson, the school’s principal, saw the carcass, but didn’t mention it until the end of the day when she invited the entire staff to Henry’s house that evening for a goose dinner.

“That poor goose had hung there all day long,” Henry said.

She and husband Russell have two children – Jason Goodman and Whisper Teel.

“I’m looking forward to spending more time with my 13 grandchildren and pursuing hobbies that I have not had time for in the past,” she said.


Kelly Hornback

Youth Service Center Clerk Kelly Hornback admits to having mixed feelings about her upcoming retirement.

“It’s really weird to be talking about ‘my retirement.’ It doesn’t seem really real just yet,” she said. “I have mixed emotions about it – I love what I do, but it’s time to focus on my family.”

Moving to Magnolia from Michigan in the middle of her fifth-grade year, she attended Magnolia Elementary School.  After graduating from LCHS in 1982, she studied at Eastern Kentucky University for two years and Elizabethtown Community College for one year before marrying and starting a family.

After volunteering in schools for years, Hornback began working in LaRue’s YSC in March, 2001.

“I love working with Marsha Duncan, YSC coordinator,” she said. “I am going to miss our daily conversations for sure, but our friendship will always be there.”

Duncan returned the compliment.

“Kelly has been such an asset to LaRue County Schools,” she said. “She has always put the students and families of LaRue County first. It’s been such a pleasure to work alongside her.”

Hornback’s family includes her husband Dean; three children – Katie (LCHS Class of 2006), Tyler (2009) and Matthew (2013); her late brother’s three children – Emily (2012), Justin (2014) and Brooke (2016); a granddaughter, Rylee; son-in-law, Paul; daughter-in-law, Katie, and “granddog,” Axel.


Hope McNeill

After she graduated from LCHS in 1969, Hope McNeill worked at First Hardin National Bank in Elizabethtown before beginning her career in education as a bus monitor for LaRue County Schools.

“After that, I was a pre-school assistant and then a special education assistant with teacher Dana Sprowles, where I’ve been the last 20 of my 23 years with the district,” McNeill said. “I have a brother, Walter Earl (Dorsey), who I take care of who was in special education, so when I began, I was accustomed to taking care of the needs of these students.”

Working with special education students has taught her how to care more and how to love more.

“They have taught me to look at life differently and have made me so grateful for life,” she said.

One of her fondest memories is the day she took her students to Special Olympics competition in Louisville.

“A lot of times in class, when I was into some important activity, I would say under my breath, ‘Help me, Jesus, I need you,’” she recalled. “I didn’t really think anything about it, and didn’t think that any of the students had picked up on that expression.”

But on that day in Louisville, when one of her students was preparing to throw the softball in front of at least 1,000 spectators, McNeill saw him look upward and yell at the top of his lungs, “Help me, Jesus, I need you now!”

“Of course, you can imagine how everybody in the stands roared with laughter, and laughed even more, when after he threw the ball, he again hollered really loud, ‘Thank you, Jesus,’” she recalled.

After retiring from the school system, McNeill plans to continue working in the deli at Elizabethtown’s Walmart, a job she’s held for 16 years.

Her son, Jason, is a sports trainer and photographer in Atlanta working toward certification to be a special education teacher. Her daughter Chira, who lives in Buffalo, works for Glen Dale Children’s Home.


Mary Lou Newton

HES math intervention teacher Mary Lou Newton retires with 31 years in education.

She taught 10 years in Bullitt County before transferring to LaRue.

“I taught fifth grade for 20 years in LaRue County,” she said. “Before that, I taught everything from first through sixth grade except fifth in Bullitt County.”

The Hodgenville native and LCHS graduate holds bachelors and masters degrees in elementary education and a Rank 1 in counseling from Western Kentucky University.

Seeing that she loved children and wanted to work in a day care, her parents encouraged her to become a teacher instead.

“I am so glad I listened to them,” Newton said.

Like so many of her colleagues, Newton finds it hard to pick her fondest memory of her career.

“I feel so blessed to have had an opportunity to teach children,” she shared. “The greatest thing about my job is the relationships I have formed over the years with other people.”

Looking ahead, she intends to keep busy with many different things.

“I enjoy working in the yard, swimming, reading, and would like to be more involved in the community by volunteering,” she said.

She and her husband Dickie have two children, Jordan and Beth; two grandsons, Dylan and Trey, and a grand-puppy, Scottie.

“I know I will miss the wonderful people I work with at Hodgenville and LaRue County as well as the students,” she said. “It has been an honor to be part of a school district that values students and learning.”


Sue Osborne

Hodgenville Elementary School Principal Sue Osborne grew up in Bardstown and graduated from Nelson County High School.

She attended Western Kentucky University, where she earned  bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education, and a  Rank I in school administration with endorsements for principal, curriculum supervisor, and superintendent.

During her 27 years in education, she served as a teacher in Nelson County schools for 11years and three years at Bluegrass Middle School in Hardin County before her first principal’s position at Brooks Elementary School in Bullitt County.  

She then worked at Washington County Elementary School as principal for eight years, was elementary curriculum supervisor for a year in the Mercer County School District before her current position which she has held for three years.

Osborne chose education as a career during her second year of college.  

“I think I always wanted to teach,” she said. “I am one of the youngest of 11 kids, so I had lots of nieces and nephews. I really enjoyed working with them, so teaching seemed like a natural thing for me.”

She has two daughters. The older daughter, Melissa Hansford is a pediatrician in Somerset.

“My youngest teaches at LaRue County High School, Miss Megan Willard‚” she said. “She loves teaching and she’s good at it. I like to think she gets it from me.”

She’s unsure about her future plans.  

“I’m going to take some time to rest and give it some thought,” she said. “The only thing I’m sure about right now is that I want to make more time for my daughters.”


Kathy Turner

Kathy Turner has been a custodian with the district for 20 years, starting part time at the board of education office, then going to full time at the high school when principal John Sullivan hired her.

“I’ve worked all shifts, and I thank God I have been able to work these 20 years,” she said.  She also thanked her Lane Lincoln CME church pastor Aaron Moss, for his guidance through the years.

Turner saw her job not only as having the school as clean as she could make it for staff, students, and visitors, but also as a person who was there to protect the students if needed, to watch over them when parents were late in picking them up, and to encourage them to make something of themselves both in school and afterwards.

“Sometimes that included my having to tell them to get out of the halls and get to class,” she acknowledged with a laugh. “The teachers, the staff, the job – it’s been a pleasant 20 years.”

She has a son, Lorenzo “Lo,” a daughter, Christina, and a grandson, Christina’s 3-year-old son Trevon who Turner says will occupy much of her time once she retires.


David Walters

In his 30 years in education, including 22 in his native LaRue County, David Walters has always had the goal of seeing those with whom he worked develop hope, purpose, and direction in changing their lives for the better.

Walters, a 1969 LCHS graduate, played football at Jacksonville State until an injury forced him to leave the game. He finished his bachelor’s degree at WKU as a government and political science major, earned his master’s at the University of Louisville, and guidance certification from the University of Alabama where he served on the university’s counseling staff.

In addition to school guidance, Walters felt a calling to spiritual guidance as well and attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he received a master’s in divinity with an emphasis in pastoral care.

“I started off coaching, but got out of education,” he said. An old friend who had worked with him in Fellowship of Christian Athletes brought him back into the educational fold.

“Joe Hazlerig, who was superintendent of Blount County Schools in Alabama, came to me and said he had a position for me,” said Walters. “I told him I was looking at ministry, but I decided to take the job as guidance counselor and football coach.”

Having served in the ministry at several churches, Walters, who is retiring as a counselor at HES, has traveled widely during his career. In Kentucky he has worked in Bowling Green, Edmonson County, Bardstown, Warren Central, and Clinton County school districts.  

Travels are also in his post-retirement plans.

“I plan on seeing my kids and the grandkids who are spread from Texas to Pennsylvania to Canada,” he said.