Retirement is ‘not goodbye’
DENVER – After 21 years of teaching music at Catawba Springs Elementary School, Peggy Buckner will retire at the end of the year.
But the end of her full-time teaching career doesn’t mean the end of her music.
“Music is something you can enjoy all your life,” Buckner said. “I hope that through music I have enriched the lives of children.”
Buckner has spent all 21 years of teaching at Catawba Springs and S. Ray Lowder elementary schools,
“There’ll be a lot of children, parents and staff that will be sad to see her go,” Catawba Springs Assistant Principal Megan Wilson said. “There will be a lot of tears.”
“Mine included,” Buckner added.
Though she’s spent a good portion of her life teaching music, she didn’t start off as a teacher.
Her love of music started when she was young.
“I had a teacher who took an interest in me, and she stayed after school and taught me to play the piano,” she said.
She attended Flora MacDonald College, where she majored in music. She then lived as a stay-at-home mom. Once her three boys – Ty, John and Will – were older, she went to Lenoir-Rhyne University to get her teaching certificate.
She’s also spent more than 40 years as a church musician and taught piano lessons on the side.
Buckner leads the Catawba Springs Singers, an after-school music group, and puts on shows throughout the year for the school, the Parent-Teacher-Organization and the community.
Students who take music with Buckner in elementary school learn the basics and are more prepared to move into band in middle school and beyond.
“One of my former students is now a grad student at the University of Connecticut in music – and he started right here,” she said.
A few years ago, some of her students sang with the N.C. Symphony.
“That’s something they’ll never forget,” Buckner said. “It was certainly a highlight in my life.”
In her retirement, Buckner will spend time with her husband, Ray, who is retired, and her 97-year-old mother, Ann. But she hopes to stay involved in the schools.
“Surely there is something I can do with the budget the way it is. We’re all going to need to do some work as volunteers,” she said. She also hopes she can substitute for a music teacher occasionally, so she can continue enriching children’s lives.
“It’s such a natural thing for children. They may be struggling somewhere else, but when they come to music, they forget it. I’ve seen some students in dark places, and this brought light into that darkness.”
And Friday, April 29, some of her students will share their light by singing at the East Lincoln Relay for Life Survivors Dinner, which will be held at the school.
Through performing, her students learn things like teamwork, dedication, responsibility and discipline, Buckner said . That’s why she’s a huge advocate for arts education.
“Music is such a powerful tool, and it’s so important that we keep music in our schools. I hope that we will never, ever let music go. Keep music alive in Lincoln County Schools.”