Superintendent Phyllis Yates shares the news of her upcoming retirement at the Ashe County Board of Education meeting on Jan. 13.

JEFFERSON — Ashe County Schools Superintendent Phyllis Yates announced her upcoming retirement, effective July 1, at the Ashe County Board of Education meeting on Jan. 13.

Yates made the announcement during the comments from the superintendent portion of the meeting.

It was an emotional and reflective time for not only Yates, but for her fellow board members as well.

“I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world. I love my job and my work family,” Yates said, following the announcement.

Yates said she feels it is time for her to retire after her 44 years of service, to spend time with her family and to plan a trip out West with her husband, as they have always wanted to do.

She has served in her current role as superintendent of schools since the 2015-16 school year when she replaced Todd Holden after he accepted a position in another county.

Her recent news of retirement came as a surprise to many of the school system employees.

Yates described her coworkers as her other family and she couldn’t have been more blessed than she has been in her career.

Fellow board member Polly Jones said she has known Yates for more than 20 years and spoke highly of her. Jones commended her strong work ethic, noting that many times she would drive by the board of education building about midnight and Yates would be there working. She also listed some of the programs and ideas that Yates helped contribute to that she feels are necessary for the board to continue, such as the “Leader in Me” program and “Thinking Maps.”

Board chairman C.B. Jones Jr. said he appreciates everything Yates has done the past 44 years. He also complimented her on her persistence and how she had to start at the bottom and work her way up to where she is now.

“I think you’re going to be very hard to replace,” he added.

Vice chairman Dr. Lee Beckworth gave a moving sentiment about her great dedication and how it will be difficult to match.

“I don’t have many people who I consider a close friend, but Phyllis Yates is one of them,” Beckworth said.

Dianne Eldreth closed out the board comments by also commending Yates on her strong work ethic, stating that the children of Ashe County need hard working people to serve as their role models.

“I’m only as good as the people around me, and the people around me are the best,” Yates said in response to all of the touching comments made regarding her announcement.

As far as the search for her replacement, Yates said she anticipates the board will begin discussing the issue soon.

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