“It’s been a good ride, folks.”
Associate Superintendent Robert Beck stood before teachers, administrators and community members on Thursday afternoon as he offered his final testament to Richmond County Schools. The nearly 41-year veteran to the school system attended a special retirement celebration in his honor at the First Presbyterian Church in Rockingham.
Beck began his career in Scotland County as a 7th grade Science and Physical Education teacher at Washington Park Elementary. After a year, he moved to Scotland High School, where he taught Biology until his move to Richmond County Schools.
His career landed him at Richmond Senior High School, where he taught Biology for seven years before serving a year as a guidance counselor and then four more as an assistant principal. Following his time at Richmond Senior High, Beck served as the principal of Hamlet Junior High for 13 years before moving to the Central Office as the Superintendent for Curriculum, Technology and Testing. Two years later, he took his final role as Associate Superintendent until his retirement.
After more than four decades in the education field, Beck said he was struck with the notion that it was just his time to go. The associate superintendent served his final days at the Central Office in late March.
Area principals, board members, friends and family all attended Thursday’s retirement celebration to bid farewell to a dedicated employee and friend.
“He has been a constant in my life,” said Cindy Goodman, assistant superintendent of Human Resources. “And he has touched the lives of thousands.”
Goodman described the qualities of a good leader, noting that Beck was instrumental in developing other leaders and in caring about both students and teachers.
“He became the success he is today by working hard every day,” Goodman said.
Director of Informational Technology Jeff Epps also commented on Beck’s guidance.
“I want you to know that over the last nine years, you’ve taught me a lot about leadership,” he said during the celebration. “Now I am a better leader, but I’m also a better person.”
Former superintendent Larry K. Weatherly also attended the reception, and praised Beck for his many accomplishments within the district.
“If it wasn’t for Eddie Beck, you wouldn’t have technology in Richmond County,” Weatherly said, explaining that Beck was among the first to incorporate early technology into the school system. “Nobody could have been more loyal to me than him … Richmond County is sure going to miss him.”
Many principals in the area commented on how Beck had served as a role model to their own success.
“There are many things I do today that reflect what I learned from Dr. Beck,” said Keith McKenzie, principal of Richmond Senior High School.
Wendy Kelly Jordan, principal of Mineral Springs Elementary, also expressed her gratitude for Beck’s support.
“Dr. Beck has always cheered for me,” she said, adding that her friendship with Beck stretches back to some of her earliest years. “He’s watched me grow up and has watched my career evolve. I just want to say thank you and that I love you.”
Former chairman of the Richmond County Board of Education Bruce Stanback said he had a unique opportunity to work with Beck for 20 years in the Central Office.
“You couldn’t have found a more fair person,” Stanback said. “His door was always open and he was always fair to you … I want to thank him for all he’s done for Richmond County.”
Many of those who attended were able to share stories and anecdotes about the time they spent with Beck.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Jeff Maples called him a “man of high morals and integrity.”
“It was the best move I’ve ever made to come to Richmond County,” Maples said to Beck, “and you’re a large part of that. We’re going to miss you.”
In his closing remarks, Superintendent George E. Norris congratulated Beck on his retirement and recalled how the associate superintendent helped him transition into Richmond County Schools nearly six years ago.
“As Dr. Beck retires, I’m not only losing an esteemed colleague, but a very good friend,” Norris said. “I don’t think there’s much of any decision I’ve ever made without consulting Dr. Beck. He always was someone who I felt like I could trust and talk to — he always advised me well … He has really become a fixture in this community and is greatly missed already.”
Norris then read a letter of recognition from State Representative Ken Goodman, of Rockingham, thanking Beck for his many years as an educator.
Beck, alongside his wife Roxanne, who retired from L.J. Bell Elementary School at the same time, thanked everyone for their words of encouragement and praise.
“It has been my pleasure to work with you all over the years in many different capacities,” he said. “It really has been a good ride.”