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Celeste Henkel teacher assistant recognized by community after over 30 years of service in I-SS

Celeste Henkel teacher assistant recognized by community after over 30 years of service in I-SS

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Barbee Ervin is set to retire after more than 30 years as a teacher assistant at Celeste Henkel Elementary School. She also coached softball and drove buses for Iredell-Statesville Schools.

“We can’t go anywhere without someone knowing her,” said Tiffany Elmy, Ervin’s daughter.

Ervin plans to retire at the conclusion of the school year, but there won’t be the normal retirement celebration due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

For Elmy and the rest of the people whose lives were touched by Ervin, not having a celebration was not an option.

So Elmy and the community rallied together and organized a surprise social distancing parade for Ervin where several dozen cars drove by her house in the rain and showed gratitude with gifts and kind words.

“They mean so much to me. It makes me love them even more,” Ervin said as the cars drove by her house, “I’ve really put my heart in this school because it was a good place to put it.”

Danette Sigmon, a teacher assistant at Celeste Henkel, said that the school will miss her voice in the hallway.

“She has such a distinct voice. She’s the pillar of our school,” Sigmon said.

Elmy said that Ervin always put students and others before herself in service to the community.

“She is the most selfless person I’ve ever met,” Elmy said. “She’s taught me to care and to love, no matter who they are, or where they come from.”

It took more than half an hour for all the cars to drive by her house as Ervin and her family stood under a tarp in the rain.

“They’re all her kids,” Sigmon said.

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