After 39 years, director of elementary education calls it a career

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury School System’s director of elementary education will retire in June after a nearly 39-year career.
Dr. Sarah Hensley, who began her career as a teacher before climbing her way up the administrative ladder, is leaving the district to spend more time with her husband, Michael, and seventh-grade daughter, Samantha.
“For so long I put my job first and my family second. I really need to reverse those roles and put my family first,” she said.
Hensley said the loss of one of her co-workers earlier this year triggered her thoughts of retirement.
“That made me think that time is very short and precious,” she said.
Hensley began her career as an art specialist in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System in 1974. After one year, she moved to Salisbury’s Knox Middle School to serve in the same role.
She spent more than a decade at Knox before her foray into administration began, moving up to an assistant principal post at the school in 1986.
Hensley’s first principalship was at Henderson Elementary School. She moved on to Corriher-Lipe Middle before becoming the director of elementary education in 1999.
“I’ll tell you, I have thoroughly enjoyed every job I’ve had in education,” she said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a wonderful career and people who were always there to support me.”
Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said she’s “very appreciative” for the years of service Hensley has provided the district.
“As director of elementary education, Dr. Hensley has worked closely through recent years with staff as our district has adjusted to changes in curriculum, the rapid growth in the use of technology in the classroom and the opening of three new elementary schools,” she said in a statement. “I wish her the very best as she moves into her retirement years.”
Hensley said some of the most rewarding moments of her career have been watching students achieve against the odds and seeing teachers grow from year to year.
Right now, Hensley’s only plans are to soak up some much-needed family time, but she said she’ll likely work again in the private sector.
As a trained artist she’ll also likely tap into her creative side.
And vacations will become work-free for the first time in as long as she can remember.
“I’m looking forward to having a vacation that I can go on without having to take a satchel of school stuff with me,” she said.
Hensley’s position is posted on the district’s website. The application deadline is July 1.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.