Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

June 19, 2014

Couple retiring after long tenure at TPS

TAHLEQUAH — On July 1, local residents shouldn’t be surprised if an RV comes down the street with Terry Garrett at the wheel.

“We bought an RV. How cliché is that?” said Terry.

After almost 50 years combined, the duo of Terry and Connie Garrett is retiring from Tahlequah Public Schools: he, as executive director of Technology and Operations and she, as district personnel manager.

“I may find another full-time job, and I will not commit about running for public office,” said Terry. “I see things I could do and I am good at.”

Terry said there were so many experiences he looks at, and he learned something from each one.

“I helped forward the movement of the district throughout our facilities and the availability for students,” said Terry.

For 12 years, Terry was a principal at several of the district’s sites before moving into administration, where he has been for the past eight years.

“We have great students and great teachers,” said Terry. “Our students shine.”

Terry said Randy Underwood will do just fine as his replacement.

“He has a keen eye and he will see things that need to be done,” he said. “Randy is a Tahlequah school guy.”

Connie started her career as the “lunch lady” at Tahlequah High School, 29 years ago. She will retire after 14 years in her current position.

“As personnel manager, I like meeting and working with new teachers and staff,” said Connie.

The Garretts both graduated from Tahlequah, and so did their two children.

“People do not come and stay,” said Connie. “Sometimes we may have more jobs than applicants.”

Connie said her work environment was good, and she thought of her co-workers as family.

“I never wanted to be a teacher, but I think it is important for anyone who works for a school to build relationships with students,” she said. “Students can come to school with a lot of baggage and they may just need a kind word or smile.”

TPS Superintendent Lisa Presley said the pair will be missed.

“This is a huge loss to the district,” said TPS Superintendent Lisa Presley.

Presley said Connie created the job she has now.

“She knows more about personnel than anyone in the district,” she said. “She gets the job done and has no problem working weekends.”

Presley said both Garretts have agreed to help part-time for a year.

“Connie is smart and thinks things through,” said Presley. “She has gone to any training about personnel and knows how to get reports done.”

Presley said Terry was responsible for the safety of the schools and facilitated all of the new safety measures.

“The profession is changing,” said Presley. “People do not have the commitment they did 20 years ago to stay in one district and one community. “

So, as the Garretts head to the gasoline station to get the RV ready, Terry reflected briefly.

“This has been a great ride,” said Terry.

And for Connie?

“It has been a good gig,” she said.

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