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News Archive Item

Royal retires after 21 years at Jefferson Elementary School

Submitted Jun 14th, 2006

CHARLESTON - Thinking about her fast approaching retirement is both exciting and unnerving for Charlotte Royal, who is wrapping up 21 years in the office at Jefferson Elementary School on Tuesday. "I don't know what's out there yet," she said recently while taking a break from her duties as secretary to the assistant principal, "but that's also the exciting, adventurous part. "I have a lot of things I might do, but just being free sounds nice."

Royal and her husband Tom are expecting their fifth grandchild any day, so grand-mothering and helping the couple's grown two daughters are high on her list of early retirement priorities. "I've really enjoyed the clerical part of the job," she said, "and the interaction with the kids and with their parents. We have people coming and going in the office all day long. "We get to know the parents, even if it's on a brief basis, by them picking up their kids or bringing things to them. In 21 years, I've met quite a few people."

Royal also said she has enjoyed the daily interaction with teachers and other employees at the school. "Jefferson is a good place to work. You kind of become a family. You may not get to know them on a social level, but on a day-to-day basis, you get to know them and there are so many different personalities, and I've enjoyed that," she said.

"Being part of a group is important I think, and Jefferson has provided that for me. Everybody works together and they're all friendly. "In the office, we don't see what goes on in the classroom, but we do see the teachers and interact with them. That's another thing I'll miss."

Royal said one of the changes she's noted from when she began her job 21 years ago is in the attitudes of some of the students. "Not all of them, but some of them are fearless," she said. "They're not afraid of authority anymore. Kids showed a lot more respect when there was a little more corporal punishment." Today's discipline involves a system of points, she said, and when a student receives 20 points they have to serve a hour after school. Students with no points are rewarded with a party. Those with points aren't allowed to attend. "We have some students who come to the office for discipline quite often, but all in all, it's just a few out of the 650-some students we have," she said.

Royal said there are days every week where "it's just crazy," with ringing phones and other interruptions. Particularly chaotic are early dismissal snow days. And she's going to miss it all. Tentative plans call for some painting at home, and work on a large back yard that she claims has been neglected. There are also plans for a vacation, for voluntering and becoming more involved with her church.

Her husband is scheduled to retire in March, so there will be more time to spend together. "I'm not a very good person to set goals," Royal said. "I just kind of take what comes to me and deal with it and do what I can with it and go on. "I just take what comes my way. That way I'm not too disappointed if I've made plans and they fall through."

Ken Trevarthan/Staff Photographer Retiring Jefferson Elementary School secretary Charlotte Royal is pictured at the school in Charleston.

Posted by Loistel Summerville, Casey, IL