After dedicating a lifetime attempting to help youth move in the right direction, with 16 of those years at the Halifax County Public Schools’ alternative education program, 83-year-old educator Floyd Fields has retired.

His official retirement date was Sept. 1, and he’s been enjoying his retirement with his wife, Gail, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Teachers, faculty, staff, fellow retirees and friends gathered with Fields and his wife on Thursday to celebrate his retirement with a luncheon at the STEM Center in Halifax.

Alternative Programs Supervisor Faye Bruce presented Fields with a rocking chair and a card signed by his fellow teachers and a plaque congratulating him on his retirement after spending 16 years at Halifax County Public Schools.

Fields first joined alternative education at Halifax County Public Schools in 2002 after spending time as a substitute teacher in 2001.

Prior to that, he taught in similar alternative education settings in schools in Washington, D.C. in the 1990s and at The Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York, in the 1960s.

He also served in the army, which is where he said he learned discipline and made lifelong friends.

When he decided to go into education, he felt alternative education was where he could do the most good.

“I try to right wrongs,” said Fields. “I have worked with children who needed extra help and didn’t have the best support system at home who were acting out. They’re up against a lot.”

As an educator, he remembers the teachers he had who he describes as “smart, capable and real determined,” who “didn’t take any nonsense.”

“I try to emulate them,” said Fields. “I try to show my students that if they can get to that crest, and see the top, that they can go forward. They’re all capable of learning. They just need something to compel them to help move them in the right direction.”

Over the years he has seen many changes such as the introduction of technology and cyber bullying, but it has been the culture changes that always shocked him the most.

When he first came to Halifax County schools, the department was called the “career center,” and he’s worked in mobile units at Halifax County High School, at Mary Bethune, in another area of the STEM Center, and most recently, the New Beginnings area of the STEM Center.

Throughout his career, the best parts he believes were “seeing a smile replace a frown, seeing a light come on and seeing someone taking interest in something who hadn’t before,” and he also commended the individuals he’s worked with over the years.

Now that he’s retired, he plans to do some traveling with his wife, and he wishes all of his students well.

He misses being able to make an impact in their lives, and says he would not trade his years of teaching for anything.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com