LOGAN, W.Va. — When a decades-long career in education ends, the occasion should always be steeped in the reflections of thousands of lives changed and lessons learned.
When the career is a long and illustrious as the matriarch of education in Logan County, Phyllis Adkins, however, the official going away party draws a large crowd from throughout society with hearts full of love and minds beaming with respect.
The final meeting of the Logan County Board of Education attended by Adkins in her professional capacity as a member of the board was June 23.
Former superintendents, students, current and former board members, representatives of local and statewide government and several members’ of Adkins’ family gathered at Ralph R. Willis Career and Technical Center to provide Adkins a send-off befitting her career.
Eighty-seven year old Adkins has been a part of the Logan County School system for 68 years serving 20 of those on the Logan County Board of Education.
Adkins noted her career in education began in the 1950s on Madison Creek in Logan County where the lack of a private bridge forced her to use a john boat to ferry children back and forth to a school without running water.
“I had parents who came and brought buckets of water everyday for the kids…I started my own hot lunch program — those kids were hungry. I had a mother…there were three of them who brought soup beans. I stopped at Greenbriar Diary…and they gave me day-old milk for my kids,” noted Adkins.
After teaching at several schools throughout the county, Adkins started her own kindergarten which eventually expanded to offer pre-k as well.
Adkins’s kindergarten would plant the seed of education in the minds of Logan County’s children for 25 years.
Following the reception, Robbie Queen, with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office, presented Adkins with the highest honor the governor can bestow to a citizens of West Virginia — the Distinguished West Virginian Award.
Queen noted Tomblin’s child had attended Adkins’ preschool and that the governor and first lady where thankful for the education Adkins provided not only to their child but to hundreds of Logan County children throughout nearly seven decades of work.
Harold Dean Keener and board member Dr. Pat Joe White also presented Adkins with plaques commemorating her service to the county’s children.
At the board meeting following the reception, outgoing board member and fellow pillar of the community Don Elkins used a portion of his final comments to turn to Adkins and say, “Phyllis, you’re a beautiful individual and we love you. All the best to you and your family. Thank you so much.”
During her final comments, Adkins parted with the board of education saying, “It has been a privilege for years to serve the Logan County school children I love. Parents…grandparents — they have been wonderful. I must say that each board member I have served with have done an outstanding job. I will never forget you. All of you are so important and have been important in my life. I enjoy my work…I want to say to the three new members, good luck. You’ve got your work cut out for you, but you all can do it. Again, to all of you here tonight: accept my love and my appreciation. Remember that I have always loved you and will always.”
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]