Retirees of the Year Jane Brock, Donald Oakes share 2012 honor

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Retiree of the Year award, given by the Retired Education Personnel of Vicksburg-Warren County, is a shared honor this year.

Before a crowd of about 100 of their peers, the 2011 Retiree of the Year, Jo Ella Walls, announced this year’s recipients, Jane Brock and Donald Oakes.

“Thank y’all so much,” said Brock. “This is such an honor.”

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Brock taught for 28 1/2 years in public schools. She spent 15 1/2 years teaching music at the former Halls Ferry Elementary, half a year with Pearl Public Schools and the remaining time as a counselor at South Park Elementary.

Brock was part of H.V. Cooper High School’s last graduating class, 1971, and she received a music education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s in counseling from Jackson State.

“I’m still having fun in education,” she said. “I’m doing a little bit of subbing.”

Oakes was unable to attend Monday’s awards luncheon — he is a poll worker and was preparing for Tuesday’s general election.

During his 35 years in education, Oakes was a teacher, basketball coach, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent of the Vicksburg Warren School District. He also served as the VWSD’s interim superintendent after Dr. James Price retired in June 2010 and before Dr. Elizabeth Duran Swinford came on board a few months later.

Swinford spoke at the luncheon and encouraged retirees to continue to be a part of the education community by volunteering at the public schools.

Brock agreed. “If a retired person could just go in a couple of days and help with the reading block, I know it would be appreciated by the principal — these children are still ours.”

The VWSD this year has implemented a 90-minute reading block to beef up literacy in the 8,500-student district.

Also Monday, the retirees group installed new officers. They are Frances Gaddis, president; Walls, vice president; Linda Herrod, secretary; and Louise Herrod, treasurer.