“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
― Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai

Thirty-three and a half years ago I began my career teaching on Edisto Island, South Carolina.  Each teacher at my school was a first-year teacher.  We all commuted an hour each way from Charleston, SC daily.  I entered my first classroom to find desks, chairs, a blackboard, and some outdated textbooks.  I painted my classroom walls with the help of a good friend and prepared to meet my first students.

I taught at my first school for two years before finding a job closer to home in order to regain two hours commuting time per day.  The lessons I learned in those first two years, without question, shaped who I became as an educator and as a human.

The Beginning

The Beginning

My second school was located in the West Ashley area of Charleston.  I taught children in that school for three years before moving back to the area where my parents lived, near Charlotte, NC.

The majority of my teaching career took place at Selwyn Elementary School in Charlotte, NC.  I began teaching at Selwyn in 1992.



When I joined the Selwyn staff, I was one of two and a half first grade teachers.  I watched the school grow to seven teachers on my grade level over the years.  While many things changed over the years at Selwyn, my love for children and for teaching remained constant.

I shared life’s joys and sorrows while working at Selwyn for 28 1/2 years.  I had my child while there, weathered a divorce, was a single mom, watched my son through his elementary school years, remarried, and lost a parent all while teaching children at Selwyn.  Selwyn was my home.  Its children, parents, and staff, my extended family for decades.

As I approached my retirement year, I decided to complete a personal photography project at school.  I wanted to capture some of the joys I experienced each day in images.  I began taking a picture a day at school.  The project took a life of its own once my students were involved.  I know I will always cherish these photos and the memories captured within them.

I hope you will enjoy this slide show I made of the images from my final years at Selwyn.  To view the slideshow, please click here.

January 1, 2021 will be my official retirement date after 33 1/2 years teaching.  My decision to retire at this time was not made suddenly or lightly.  Although many reasons factored into my decision, having more time to spend with my mother who I have been supporting almost daily for more than a year now was a major factor.

I always had thoughts of what retirement would mean for me.  I had a much different picture than the reality of today.  The months, weeks, and days leading to my actual retirement day have been some of the most emotional days I have encountered.  I have heard from past and present students and their families.  I have reflected upon all of the joys of the past 33 1/2 years.

As for the past, I am so grateful for the career path that I chose.  So many rewards to teaching are etched in my memory and in my heart.

In the present, my prayers are with all of the teachers, students, and families as they begin the second semester of this school year.

My future, as all of our futures remains to be discovered.  I am hopeful and excited to explore new opportunities.  Whatever they are, I know that I will work to make sure that children and teaching continue in my life.  They are just part of who I am!





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Mary Presson Roberts

I am a travel and fine art photographer living and working in the Carolinas. My camera has taken me to places I never would have experienced and to people I never would have met. Photography has truly changed my life! Using my blog, I hope to share the joys of both travel and photography.

Comments (13)

  1. It has been said that teachers plant the seeds of the future. May the blessings of good health, the joy of good friends,
    a loving family, and the contentment of a job well done, fill your life with happiness!

  2. They say that teachers plant the seeds of our future. May the blessings of good health, the joy of good friends,
    a loving family, and the contentment of a job well done, fill your life with happiness!

    1. Thank you, kindly, Bill! May 2021 bring you and your family health and happiness!

  3. Just incredible lady I loved ever second of it. You can feel the love and passion for those kind in your work. Outstanding very well done.

    1. Thank you, very much! Happy New Year, James!

  4. I loved every minute of this video … and then I cried. Congratulations on a wonderful career and best wishes for the next exciting chapter of your life. I look forward to watching it unfold through your creative photography. You are an inspiration.

    1. Thank you, very much, Nancy! I look forward to the time when our paths cross again. Happy New Year!

  5. Your slide show is magnificent Mary! Your ability to master the technical and artistic aspects of this kind of project is surpassed only by the beauty and love that is so evident in your photos. Congratulations on your long, productive teaching career and good luck to you in your retirement!

    1. Many thanks, David, for your very kind words! Wishing you all of the best in 2021!

  6. Beautiful pictures…what a great way to remember your students. Congratulations on your retirement and best wishes to you and your mother for a healthy and happy 2021.

    1. Thank you! Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year to you, as well!

  7. Congratulations on your retirement, Mary. It’s a gift to be able to spend time with an aging parent, without the pressure of work. And I look forward to your photography in the new year.

    1. Thank you, so much! Happy New Year to you!

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