By Gary Mitchell
Talk about being true to your school.
Two Clovis school employees — a special education teacher at Marshall Junior High and a teaching assistant at La Casita Elementary — have spent more than a third of a century teaching in their respective schools.
Pat Bass, 63, will retire from Clovis schools this year with 36 years in education, 35 of them all at Marshall.
Myra Sherrill, 67, will retire this year with 34 years in education, all of them at La Casita.
The epitome of longevity, Bass and Sherrill head a list of 21 Clovis school retirees who have a combined total of 499 1/2 years of educational experience.
Others in the 30-plus years of experience include: Pat Cohen, a secretary at La Casita, with 31 years; Martha Telles, an education assistant at Clovis High School, with 30 1/2 years; and Kenneth Wilkins, an assistant principal at Yucca Junior High, with 30 1/2 years.
Bass spent her first year teaching first grade at Farwell in 1965-66 before being hired by Clovis schools originally as a home economics teacher.
“The reason I switched to special education was that at the time I taught home economics, the teacher who had been hired to teach home economics was on leave and came back, so I was without a job,” she said. “There was an opening here at Marshall in special education, and I’ve been here ever since then.”
That was 1967.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes,” Bass said. “When I started, all of special education was here at Marshall. We had seven teachers, four classrooms, two portables and one class in the main building. Eventually the elementary age students went to Bella Vista Elementary School, and in later years, the high school age students went to the high school, so that left the junior high school students here. Now each of the junior highs have (special education) students.”
Bass said she had mixed feelings about retiring after 36 years.
“I’m excited about doing new and different things, but I’m going to miss my kids and the people at Marshall,” she said.
Tracy Cordova, a custodian who worked with Bass at Marshall the last four years, called her “wonderful.”
“She enjoyed being with the students,” she said. “She’s very caring, a sweet lady. The kids will miss her.”
Dale Fullerton, principal at Marshall, echoed those sentiments.
“She’s one of the sweetest, most dedicated teachers I’ve ever seen around kids,” he said. “She does her job with pride and loves every one of those kids. She’ll be missed greatly.”
Sherrill began her career as an educational assistant just after her own children started school at La Casita.
“I became a room mother, a volunteer and a PTA president,” the soft-spoken teaching assistant said. “The new educational assistant program was just coming into place in 1969, and they asked me if I wanted to work. That was the first year they started the program.”
Several of her former students have become teachers themselves — as well as professionals in other fields, Sherrill said.
“Lot of memories,” she said. “There have been a lot of students, and we’ve had a lot of success. The best part of the job has been the interaction with the children.”