‘Bucket list’ awaits

Published 8:33 am Thursday, July 14, 2011

AHOSKIE – There comes a time when it’s okay to check things off the bucket list.

Such is the case now for retiring Ridgecroft School Headmaster Elton Winslow.

“I’ll be 66 on my next birthday and I’ve spent 38 years in a school; 30 in public schools and eight here,” Winslow said. “School has consumed most of my time. There are a lot of things I’ve wanted to do over the years that I couldn’t and it’s time for me to do some of them.”

Winslow came out of retirement eight years ago when he was offered the opportunity to serve as Head of School at Ridgecroft and told the board at that time he would stay at least five years.

“I told them I would give them five years and I would let them know at least a year ahead of time when I was retiring and 18 months ago I told them I would retire July 1,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they had plenty of time to conduct a proper search and find the right person to come in.”

As he looks back on his career, Winslow said it was easy to know what he would miss.

“I’ll miss the kids; that’s true of every school that I’ve worked in,” he said. “They are the best thing about the experience.

“At Ridgecroft, I had the opportunity to work with pre-school, lower and middle school which happened for the first time in my 30 years,” he said. “To have a school that goes from three years old to 18 and get to work with all ages has been something I have enjoyed and I didn’t know that I would.”

Winslow said the little kids at Ridgecroft had a special place in his heart.

“The little kids are still full of wonder and still eager to learn,” he said. “They don’t have their license, boyfriends or girlfriends and some of them don’t have cell phones yet.”

While he said the job of being a headmaster is different than serving as a principal, Winslow said he enjoyed the work he did and didn’t find anything really tough about his role.

He said the economy had forced some people to take their children out of independent schools over the past several years which left the school with budget challenges, but that he still wouldn’t call them tough.

Winslow said he was retiring while he still enjoyed his work.

“I still enjoy coming to work,” he said. “I don’t get up and wish the day or week was over. It hasn’t been that way for the past 38 years. In fact, it has gone by fast.”

In his time at Ridgecroft, Winslow said he was proud of the strides that had been made in aligning the curriculum and the updated technology in the school. He was also pleased with the success of the athletic program during that time.

Looking back even further to his time as Principal of Gates County High School, Winslow said he was proud of the academic accomplishments of the school on test scores and the safety of the students and staff at the school.

Winslow said both schools had been a joy to be involved with and that he had enjoyed his many roles as teacher, coach and administrator. In addition to serving as the man in charge of both schools, he taught and coached at both institutions.

During his coaching career, Winslow coached football, basketball and tennis and worked as an athletic director. In fact, he will continue to coach the girl’s tennis team at Ridgecroft for the foreseeable future.

While he has enjoyed his time working at Ridgecroft and at Gates County High, Winslow is also looking forward to his retirement.

“I have four grandchildren and they’re growing up,” he said. “I have not spent as much time with them as I should. They oldest plays volleyball at Central Middle School. This is her third year and I’ve never seen her play because I’ve had obligations here.

“I’m looking forward to participating more in their life,” he said.

As he retires, Winslow also said he plans to scratch a few items off his bucket list.

“I think the best time to go to the Outer Banks is during the fall and I haven’t been able to do that because of work,” he said. “I’ve never seen the leaves turn in the mountains. I’ve seen pictures, but I’ve never seen it.”

He said he also plans to attend Mardi Gras, go to the Bahamas and head to Florida during February.

While doing that, he said he plans to still be around Ridgecroft and Gates County.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’ll be around to help out if I’m needed, I just won’t be doing it every day.”