News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Principal Hartley Gibbons walked into the meeting to a round of applause and he with only kind words for his staff and students, telling News 12 he's happy with his decision and he packed his own bags.
“Thank you Richmond County, and I bid you farewell,” Gibbons said as he left the school.
The end of an era for Terrace Manor Elementary as Principal Gibbons announced his retirement
“Thank you for everything, and I retire with a smile on my face knowing that the citizens of Augusta have spoken, and with their voices, things will change,” Gibbons said as he got into his car and drove away.
For four years, the parking spot marked for the principal has been filled by the same person. It’s where Principal Gibbons would pull into school each morning, but on Friday, it will be filled by someone new when Interim Principal Hal Thomason steps in.
“It was very, very friendly. He called this morning and said, ‘Dr. Roberson, I want to come in and talk with you,’ and I said, 'Certainly.' I didn't have any idea it was going to be the announcement to retire," said Superintendent Dr. Frank Roberson.
Gibbons' impromptu announcement comes on the heels of a health controversy at the school, and now that he's out, Thomason has some big shoes to fill.
But with those shoes, he also steps into the mold controversy.
“I’m going to make an informed decision about what I feel about the building,” Thomason said. “I talk to parents. I believe in an open door policy. I'm a parent myself. So anybody that wants to come in, open door. I'll be glad to talk to any of them.”
For those who know Gibbons, they are sad to see him go.
“My children really think a lot of him and all of the children here do. I feel like when he went down to the board he was being the voice for them,” parent Danielle Peterson said.
“A good man is what we're losing in his retirement. He has established so many wonderful relationships with students and faculty and those things you can't replace,” Roberson said.
Dr. Roberson says they are already looking for a permanent replacement.
As for the mold, we're working to get a copy of those recent results. Of course, we'll pass them along when we do.