WEIRTON - For about 20 years, Joyce Vogler has been in the unique position of being principal and teacher at Lauretta B. Millsop Primary School at the same time.
It's a situation many would find challenging but one she has found to be very rewarding, and it will end soon as Vogler is retiring following 35 years in education.
Vogler took a break from cleaning her classroom, following the departure of her pupils for summer break Thursday afternoon, to answer questions about her tenure at the school.
Joyce Vogler is retiring after serving as principal and teacher at Lauretta B. Millsop Primary School at the same time for about 20 years. -- Warren Scott
The last 20 years have been busy ones for Vogler, who has juggled serving as administrator of the small school with teaching a classrooom of fourth-graders first and more recently, third-graders.
A graduate of Follansbee High School and West Liberty State College, she began her teaching career with Bellaire City Schools but came to Brooke County Schools in 1979.
She had taught for 13 years at the former Carver School, a school for special education students that closed when the students were integrated into other local schools and the building became home to the school district's transportation department.
"I've spent about half my career in special education and half at Millsop," said Vogler, who also earned a master's degree in education at West Virginia University.
She accepted the principal-teacher job at Millsop following the retirement of Delores Ginier, who served as principal and teacher at the school for 13 years.
Asked if she was ever daunted by the dual role, Vogler replied, "You just do it. Whatever it takes to learn the job, you do."
She said like many principals and teachers, she often took work home with her or stayed after school over the years.
But Vogler was quick to credit her staff for helping her to ensure the school ran smoothly from day to day.
"It was an adjustment, but I had a wonderful secretary, Beatrice Lish, and when she retired, Linda Leavitt, who has been excellent," she said.
Vogler added all of the school's staff and staff at the county board of education, as well as her husband and family, have been very supportive.
She said pupils and teachers have worked hard to earn such recognition in past years as a School of Distinction and exemplary school from the West Virginia Department of Education.
She added parents have been key to the success of many activities, including student appreciation and positive behavior support programs, field trips and walks benefiting the United Way and American Cancer Society.
Asked her favorite school subject, Vogler replied English and handwriting. She lamented that some believe the latter may be dropped from school curricula as more people communicate through e-mails and text messages than handwritten notes, which she finds more personal.
But she was quick to add math and social studies as favorites also.
Vogler said the school's small size has enabled her to get to know all of its pupils well.
A few students left cards for Vogler before they left for summer break.
One thanked her for being "the most loving, kindest, most heartwarming teacher ever."
Another told her, "Don't forget us, because we will never forget you."
Asked how she plans to spend her retirement, Vogler said, "First of all, I just want to rest and catch my breath."
She added spending time with her family, including her 90-year-old mother, and her two golden retriever pups will be at the top of the list.
It may surprise some to learn that Vogler didn't initially plan to become a teacher.
Following her high school graduation, she was working as a receptionist at a dental office and considered teaching when a former teacher, Helen Saunders, encouraged her to pursue it, she recalled.
Vogler said circumstances occurred in such a way that she believes God intended for her to become a teacher and to come to Millsop.
"I love it. I love my students, my (pupils') parents, my staff. I feel blessed to be here. God led me here. I have to credit Him," she said.
As she brushed away a tear, Vogler said, "It was a pleasure to teach at this school. I have such support from my staff and parents (of pupils there). I'm walking out of here with some lifelong friends, a lot of people that I care about."
(Scott can be contacted at email@example.com)