Johnson Elementary School’s Verna Shahan Retires After Nearly 20 Years in Harrison County

Just imagine spending your career with co-workers and administrators who seem like family, smiling faces passing by every day, and, on occasion, having handmade cards and hugs from the familiar little beings who make up your workday. This has been the reality for Verna Shahan for the past 19 years, with her most recent placement as secretary for both Johnson Elementary and Nutter Fort Primary Schools.  

When Shahan first started in Harrison County, she was assigned to various long-term positions before securing the Johnson Elementary/Nutter Fort Primary position fourteen years ago. After nearly two decades as an invaluable school secretary, Shahan announced her retirement recently. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the last few months of her job looked much different that she had planned and she truly wishes she could have had more time to interact with both the students and staff before retiring.

“Over the years. My co-workers at both schools have become like family to me,” she said. “We have shared our joys and sorrows, lunches and stories and cooperated with each other through our daily tasks, making it hard to leave.”

Shahan had the opportunity to work in the same school as her oldest two grandchildren and will be spending her retirement with all six of her grandchildren since three were born during the pandemic. Because her husband is retired and she wanted to spend more time with family, she decided to go ahead and retire to pursue some of the activities she hasn’t had time for while working full time.

“I hope to become more involved with the women and children’s programs at Bridgeport Free Methodist Church and with our church camp,” she said.  “I also want to travel and spend time with my family.”

COVID-19 has postponed some of those plans, but she is taking advantage of the time by relaxing, rediscovering old hobbies like sewing, scrapbooking, and baking and catching up on reading and organizing.

During her time at Johnson Elementary and Nutter Fort Primary, Shahan was in charge of attendance and, on more than one occasion, was amused by the notes parents sent to school. She also did payroll, lunch and Grab-n-Go.  She loved interacting with the students and found it funny when they saw her out in public and were confused that she wasn’t at school.

Although there have been many changes over the years, Shahan says moving into the new Johnson Elementary School was the biggest.  She was both sentimental about the old school and excited to the opportunity to work in the new one.  

She will miss the Kindergarten class singing to the front office staff during the holidays and the dozens of homemade cards given to them throughout the year. She always loved how the kids waved as they passed by and how ready they were to share a hug at just the right time.

After many staff luncheons, celebrations, and interactions, Shahan will always remember the kindness of her co-workers, her administrators and the teachers.

“The teachers have such dedication and devotion to each student and it has been a dream come true to work with these staffs,” she said.