Bittersweet goodbye, best wishes, tears

Children at Liberty Elementary heard the news of Mrs. Gates' retirement with a variety of emotions.

Although it’s not easy to keep a secret in a school, the faculty and staff at Liberty Elementary School, Broken Arrow, managed to hide two special assemblies Friday from Liberty Principal Karyne Gates. Gates is retiring after 38 years with the BA school district.

Teachers and students were willing and ready to tell Gates how much they loved her and how she would be missed. She was presented with a picture made with the thumbprint of every child in the school as well as with an alphabet quilt signed by many. Several little ones got caught up in the emotion and started to cry.

Betty Sheofee, instructional coach for the Great Expectations Model School program, told the audience of parents and school children that Gates has touched the lives of many.

“Mrs. Gates will leave a legacy,” Sheofee said. “She has certainly made a difference in the lives of many teachers and children.” Sheofee applauded Gates for deciding she wanted Liberty Elementary to become a Great Expectations Model School.

Sheofee was at Liberty Elementary to present the Great Expectations Model School Award for the sixth year in a row. She said obtaining the award is very difficult and is shared by only 100 schools in the country.

“In January I brought teachers from Oklahoma City, and when they left, they said, ‘Wow! Absolutely wow! They looked at the leadership and quality of the teachers and said, ‘That is a great principal.’”