Public education is in Patsy Warner’s blood.

Public education is in Patsy Warner’s blood.

The daughter of the late Everett Meredith and the sister of retired teacher Janet Miller, Warner says she never wanted to do anything else.

“Even as a child, I would play school and pretend to teach my brothers and sister,” she said. “That’s why, for me, the hardest thing is going to be turning in the key to the building.”

Warner, the assistant principal at Brick Mill Elementary since 2004 will conclude a 25-year career in the Appoquinimink School District when she officially retires July 1.

“The first thing I plan to do is clean my basement,” the 71-year-old said of her retirement plans. “I’ll probably do a lot of scrapbooking of all the stuff I’ve received from kids over the years and at some point I’d like to be a mentor or maybe a docent. I have to do something or I’ll drive my husband crazy.”

Warner attended school in Appoquinimink and even had her father as a social studies teacher during her junior and senior years at the old Middletown High School, a building that would later bear his name.

“He was well-known for being fair and I think he probably graded my work 14 times harder just because I was his daughter,” she said. “I think what I learned from him was his sense of fairness, dedication and perseverance.”

After graduating from Lyndon State College in Vermont, Warner began teaching in Smyrna rather than launch her career in her father’s shadow.

But after marrying her husband, Ken, she became an Army wife, moving to nine other states, as well as Germany and Japan, before finally getting her start in Appoquinimink in 1988.

“I was going to be an English teacher, but the principal at Redding Middle School thought I should teach social studies, maybe because that’s what my dad did,” she said. “She was right though, because after that my whole career changed.”

Warner spent 14 years teaching geography and world culture at Redding and Meredith middle school, during which time she was named the district Teacher of the Year in 1994 and the state geography teacher of the year in 1998.

“There’s never been a day I didn’t want to come to work,” Warner said. “I just love working with kids. It might sound trite, but it’s also true. As an assistant principal one of my favorite things has been to make connections with ornery, troubled kids and help them to learn self-discipline.”

Warner said she hopes the district never loses that focus on children, a hallmark that she said has made her proud to call Appoquinimink home all these years.

“I’m not sure people always believe us when we say it, but the children are our focus in every situation and that’s what’s made this district great,” she said. “My one wish is that future teachers and administrators remember that the most important part of our job is to build character in these children and not just raise test scores.”