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West Ashley High School Sees a Number of Longtime Teachers Retire as the the 2016-2017 School Year Comes to a Close


July 4, 2017
From Staff Reports

The end of a school year always brings to a close many different things. It’s the advancement of students from one grade to another. It’s the graduation of others as they begin the next chapter in their lives. It’s the end of some friendships and the beginning of others. It’s saying so long and oftentimes goodbye.

This year West Ashley High School said so long to a number of longtime teachers that will be sorely missed by students, both current and former, other teachers, community members, and so many more when the doors open for the start of another school year. With a combined 264 years of experience between them, eight educators said goodbye this month. In the following passages, some of their colleagues pay tribute to their friends.



Karl Gueldner, Facility Use Operator
“Karl Gueldner was my supervisor for 16 years with the West Ashley Community Education Department. When we first started working together, his harsh and “German” mannerisms were all I knew. As time went on, I would say I have never met a person more giving and caring than Karl. Everyone in the school district knows Karl as someone who always gave 110% dedication towards his job and community. Karl is also very well known for his unbelievably “DRY” sense of humor and for always being ready with a sarcastic or witty remark. I know Karl will be deeply missed around here. I really wish him the best and I know he will enjoy his retirement!  Although he is leaving us we will forever hear that  little “quick-witted” voice of his in the hallways — something we all became so entertained by through the years! I truly appreciate your friendship. Congratulations!!! See ya mean it!!!” — Sharon Hughes, Bookkeeper

Karl Gueldner has worked with the Charleston County School District for 29 years. He served in a number of different positions during this time, some of which include the Director of the Community Education Department and the Facility Use Operator.

Barbara Leonard, Engineering teacher
“I’ve known Barbara Leonard for about 10 years. I first met her when we worked at Golden Gate High School in Naples, Florida. We served on several committees together including the Student Government Association (SGA). I received a big plant from her at the end of that year because of all of the hard work we did that first year. She has a green thumb — I do not. Later we reconnected at West Ashley High School where I work as the registrar. She is a wonderful, caring person. Barbara loved her students. Whether it was ones here at West Ashley High or in Florida. She loved being in the classroom and teaching students. I wish my friend well in her new journeys. I’m sure there will be lots and lots of adventures to come for her.” – Suzanne Cribb, Registrar

Barbara Leonard has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher and as an administrator. She has worked as a teacher in South Carolina, Florida, and West Virginia at schools such as Golden Gate High, Fort Pierce Central High, and West Ashley High.

Sam Meade, US History teacher
“Sam Meade is the type of teacher who inspires students to achieve. His calm demeanor alongside his demanding presence allow students to easily come into his classroom and understand expectations and responsibilities. He encourages students by assisting them with problems, looking up information they need, and providing a listening ear and support. As a co-worker, he is an inspiration, role model, mentor and friend. Sam Meade’s care and concern for students and other teachers is one of the only reasons that I made it through my first year teaching. He has been an amazing friend and mentor.” – Sandy O’Dell, Social Studies teacher

Sam Meade has worked in education for over 35 years. He has been an assistant basketball coach at the College of Charleston and taught at over four different schools, which include Coastal Carolina University, East Cooper School, Wilson Hall, Middleton High, and West Ashley High School. Meade has no plans for retirement, “other than, no alarm clocks, no agenda, no place I have to be …”

Janetha Prioleau, Human
Development teacher
“Janetha Prioleau cares for her students. She speaks to each of them in the hallway daily in a personal manner. She knows their names and is interested in their daily concerns and celebrations. Although Mrs. Prioleau is retiring, she has said more than once that she will return next year because she is personally working with a student and wants to see him through until he graduates.” – Sandy Pennekamp, Career & Technology Education Dept. Chair

Janetha Prioleau has taught for over 32 years, a number of those at St. Andrew’s Parish High School. She has worked at West Ashley High since St. Andrews and Middleton combined in 2000.

Ann Rustin, Social Studies
Department Chair
“Ann Rustin and I started working with graduation almost 20 years ago. Together we organized and implemented 19 graduations. It was always a pleasure working with Ann. She is smart and hard working. We got along great working together and have watched every student who ever graduated from West Ashley High walk across that stage. Ann has taught every subject Social Studies offers. She has two Masters degrees and is a National Board Scholar teacher. She was CCSD Teacher of the Year in the 1990s. Ann was the Social Studies Department Chair at Middleton High School and again at West Ashley High School. She is retiring after 38 years of teaching. Ann, enjoy every minute of your retirement. You have earned it!” – Marshall Swindall, US Government, Holocaust teacher

Ann Rustin has taught for 38 years at schools in North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina. She began her career at Garrett High, moved away for a number of years, and then returned to teach at Middleton before it changed to West Ashley High in 2000. Now that she’s retired she plans to travel before ending up in Greenville, SC to be near family.

Eva Rutiri, Web Page Design and Development teacher
“Eva Rutiri was assigned by our former principal, Mrs. Mary Runyon, to be my teacher mentor throughout my first year here at West Ashley High School. Upon meeting her I was struck by how much she reminded me of some of the wonderful women, (both family and friends) who were a part of my life growing up in North Carolina. Like them, Eva was extremely kind, welcoming, encouraging, and cool from the get go. Her easygoing yet professional style made me feel welcome and at ease as a rookie teacher and that calm permeated into my students and class. I implemented and continue to use much of her methodology in my teaching and it remains consistently effective. Eva Rutiri is living proof that kindness, professionalism, and positivity can be advantageous not only when managing a classroom, but in all of our daily interactions with others.

Rutiri “southern charm” and kindness will always remind me of family and of home. We will truly miss having her supportive leadership empowering both the young entrepreneurs of her award winning class and the rest of us here at West Ashley High School. It has been a blessing and a gift to cross paths with you Mrs. Rutiri. Have fun traveling the world!” – Luke Hamilton, Special Education teacher, 2012-13 Rookie Teacher of the Year

Eva Rutiri has been a teacher for 32 years. 13 for the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District in North Carolina, four in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the last 15 with CCSD. In August, Rutiri will begin her next career as the Program Director for YESCarolina, a local nonprofit organization. To find out more information, visit www./yescarolina.com.

Nancy Shurlds, Drama teacher/
Ellyn Winkles, Drama teacher
“To teach drama classes in a public high school takes a special person. I have been lucky enough to have worked with two such people in my many years at West Ashley High School. Nancy Shurlds and Ellyn Winkles have enabled so many students to perform on stage and behind the scenes throughout the years. Their love of teaching and enriching these young people is a testament to their service to the arts and to our community. The number of hours they have given of themselves after the school day has ended is amazing. We owe these two individuals our thanks and gratitude for making so many young people aware of their creative abilities and potential. The arts make each of us a better person and they have been instrumental in spending their careers doing just that!” – Dan O’Brien, Art teacher

Nancy Shurlds has taught for 50 years. Yes, that’s right. 50 years. Shurlds has taught in Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Carolina for more than four different schools some of which include Leland High, Memphis Preparatory School, and West Ashley High where she taught English and Drama.

Ellyn Winkles has taught for 29 years. She taught for a short time in Atlanta, GA at Crestwood High before returning to Charleston, SC. “One of the greatest perks of my job has been that I have been able to bridge my professional life with my personal life,” said Winkles. “I have loved being the daughter of a great teacher. I have loved teaching all these years with my sister.” Winkles’ mother taught at Middleton for many years. Winkles and her sister taught at Middleton and at West Ashley High together as well.

“I think I’ve touch some lives, but no more than my many students touched mine,” said Nancy Shurlds, one of this year’s retirees. “I believe if a teacher expects the best of students and makes them believe they can do anything they want, they absolutely will. I am so proud of their many successes, and to know I was a tiny part, makes the journey fulfilling, poignant, and one I am privileged to have made.”

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