Hearts at Fuquay-Varina High School were heavy on Friday as students and staff said goodbye to their beloved Dean of Students Phyllis McLeod. McLeod retired after serving at the high school for 26 years.
McLeod has worked in the field of education for over three decades.
“I graduated from William Patterson College in Wayne, N.J., and received a BA in Middle School Education in English and Social Studies,” McLeod said. “From there I went straight to graduate school at Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga., and received a MA in counseling. I received my Educational Specialist Sixth Year Certification from NC State University in 1993. I began teaching social studies in Scotch Plains, N.J., and have been in the field of education for 35 wonderful years,” McLeod said.
In her 35 years of education, McLeod has served as a middle school social studies teacher, a college counselor, a counselor for Fuquay-Varina Middle School and Fuquay-Varina High School, a director of an alternative center and Shaw University’s Director of Counseling.
McLeod came to serve as Fuquay-Varina’s advancement counselor in 1986. After serving in the position for several years McLeod changed positions.
“When the county created the position of Dean of Students in 1993, I was selected to be Fuquay-Varina High School’s first Dean of Students,” McLeod said. “I have happily served in this position for 19 years.”
McLeod said she witnessed a lot of accomplishments while working at Fuquay-Varina High School. She said one accomplishment was when the school received the honor of being called a School of Distinction. A personal accomplishment was when she achieved the National Board Teacher Certification the first year that it was offered to counselors in 2004.
However, she said the biggest accomplishment she felt was making a difference in the lives of students.
“By far the biggest accomplishment is that I had the opportunity to make a difference by helping to build a strong community one student and one family at a time.”
McLeod said she enjoyed working at the high school.
“I have had a fabulous 26 years at Fuquay-Varina High School! It has been my privilege to have had the opportunity to work with the students and their parents in our community.”
Although she looks forward to traveling, volunteering in the community and serving in her church, McLeod said her retirement will not be easy.
“This (retirement) is difficult because Fuquay-Varina High School is my home and my family. I will miss everything about it! I will miss the students, the staff, the ceremonies, traditions, the homecoming activities and graduations. I used to be one of the marshals in the homecoming parade when we used to process down Main Street. Memories are already flooding back.”
Those who worked with McLeod said her retirement will be felt throughout the high school.
Fuquay-Varina High School Principal Edward McFarland describes McLeod as a staff member who works hard to makes sure the job gets done.
“Mrs. McLeod had guided the Student Services department admirably during her tenure,” McFarland said. “Most recently the department received National Recognition and an award from the National Association of School Counselors for their outstanding work with students. Their plan and services delivery model is now being used as a model for other schools across the United States to follow.”
Fuquay-Varina High School Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Karen Brown describes McLeod as a mentor, who was always willing to lend a helping hand and had a great sense of humor.
“Phyllis is the face of Fuquay-Varina High School,” Brown said. “Everywhere I go, people tell stories about how Phyllis has helped either them or their families through her altruistic gestures.”
Fuquay-Varina High School Marketing Education Teacher Mariam Elsayed Al-Yousuf concurs with Brown and describes McLeod as a mentor.
“As a new teacher a few years ago, Ms. McLeod helped welcome me in so many ways,” Elsayed Al-Yousuf said. “She is so involved in so many aspects of the school from the honor society that she advises, National Achievers, to the Advisory Board she hosts every semester with community members and more. When you work with Ms. McLeod on anything, you can’t help but to feel so included and part of the school’s culture because of how helpful and resourceful she is. She is a wealth of information and is so encouraging. She will definitely be missed at FVHS!”
Although McLeod will be gone, Brown said McLeod’s legacy will still be felt at the high school.
“She (McLeod) can take pride in the knowledge that she has helped to pilot her department and establish a solid foundation for Fuquay-Varina High School Student Services to continue to be a strong support for students” Brown said. “Thanks to her hard work over the years, we have the best Student Services Department in Wake County!”
McFarland said McLeod played such a large part in so many aspects of the school that she will be greatly missed.
“I have always considered Mrs. McLeod an excellent educator and true friend of the community,” McFarland said. “She supports our students, staff, parents, and others in multiple facets. She organizes events, sponsors clubs, plans for student graduation, and has always been there to do what needs to be done to make our students the most successful. She is a professional colleague and personal friend. She is a first class act. We will miss her greatly!”