HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 29, 2022) –For anyone who has spent even a little bit of time on the campus of East Henderson High School over the last forty years, the name Nancy Harris will ring a bell.
What began in 1979 as a temporary custodial position following college, developed into a dedicated career of working through the night to prepare campus for the daily arrival of students and staff. With 46 years of service behind her now, Harris retires on September 30, 2022. Her dedication is so strong to the job that she leaves with over three years of unused vacation time, something she says she does not regret.
Harris said she always viewed her work as something to be done in a certain way. “I’m not satisfied until it’s the way I like it,” she said. Looking back on her work for the school, she remembered her earliest goals.“When I first started I thought I was just going to work five years and that was my goal,” she said. “Five years turned into 43.” “Sometimes I see past students in the grocery store and they tell me that they now have grandkids,” she said. “Then I realize how long I have been here.”
Over the years, students and faculty have seen Harris go above and beyond in many situations. Whether it was shoveling snow, checking on the school on holidays, or stopping a senior prank in action, those around her say she leaves big shoes to fill.
Harris’s role as head custodian has far exceeded the everyday tasks associated with the upkeep of the building. During her time, she said she has made connections with many students. “There was a time when a student was in distress and the one person she wanted to talk to was Nancy,” said Mr. Arlon Harris, Ms. Harris’s husband. “She has also bought clothes, graduation kits, and yearbooks for students that could not afford them.”
While her loyalty to East Henderson is evident to those around her, it extends equally to her husband. A 1972 graduate of East Henderson, Mr. Harris volunteered at the school for over 20 years. “With my illness, she has taken care of the school and me as well. She does it all,” he said.
It is the type of work ethic that has not been lost on her boss, Brandon Scott, principal at East, and a former student who was impressed by Harris even then. “They don’t make ’em like Nancy anymore,” Brandon said. “So dedicated to East Henderson, so dedicated to our students and staff. Just so professional.”
Carl Taylor, Chief Administrative Officer for Henderson County Public Schools, agreed. “Ms. Harris is the common thread that links the East Henderson students and staff of the past 43 years,” he said. “As a student, teacher, and principal at East Henderson, I witnessed Ms. Harris’ commitment to the school and the passion with which she served that school community. I will especially be forever grateful for the support she showed me during my time as the Principal at East as she always went above and beyond to prepare our building for students and staff each and every day.”
In looking ahead to retirement, Harris and her husband say they’re looking forward to a vacation to Tennessee, more time gardening, and just more down time together. “I cannot wait until the first snow day during her retirement, “ said Mr. Harris. “We will be able to sit together and watch the snow fall.”