School’s out for Yeager: Longtime educator reflects on career
by Celia Shortt
School years are full of new beginnings, and none is more new this school year than Beverly Yeager’s.
After serving as principal of Moreland Elementary for 25 years, with 33 years of service in the Coweta County School System, Yeager has retired. For the first time in a long time, she will not being starting this school year as principal.
“A great characteristic of a career in education is that each school year is a new beginning, renewed energy, and new goals” she said. “I like to think about retirement the same way, new chapter, new year, new opportunities, new experiences. Time to renew and reinvent.”
Throughout her 33 years working in the school district, Yeager saw many transitions. She fondly remembers working with six different superintendents, many different teachers and thousands of students. She also remembers the transition to the digital age and how it impacted education for students. Most importantly, Yeager remembers the sense of community at Moreland.
“We raised our children together,” she said. “Mike and my own children, Kirby and Weston, attended Moreland. I’ve known families and their extended families for decades. There was a strong sense of partnership and mutual love, care, and concern for one another.”
Yeager began her teaching career in 1980 when she taught marketing education at Newnan High School and East Coweta High School. She taught for five years and then served as an assistant principal at Newnan High School for three years. In the fall of 1988 at the age of 29, she became principal of Moreland Elementary. She and her husband, Mike Yeager, Coweta’s sheriff, have lived in and been an active part of the Moreland community throughout that time.
In her educational career, Yeager has helped guide the educational foundation of not only thousands of students, but also many staff members, colleagues, friends, and members of the community.
“I was a brand new teacher when I started at Moreland Elementary school in 1988,” said Leigh Munson, now principal at Eastside Elementary. “I spent eight years as assistant principal under Beverly. We spent 21 years together. She is an impeccable leader and was the guiding force behind that entire team.”
Munson never thought she should be a principal. She credits Yeager with guiding her into that career.
“Beverly is the one who came behind me, supported me and challenged me to try something new,” she said. “She mentored me as an administrator. It helped me prepare for what I would face in life.
“My goal in life is to be as good of a leader as she was to us,” she added.
Melanie Perry, the new principal at Moreland Elementary, was a student at Newnan High School while Yeager was assistant principal there and worked with her for 14 years at Moreland Elementary.
“She’s been a great role model for me for a very long time,” Perry said. “I could not have asked for a better mentor who is so near and dear to the community and the school.”
Perry started at Moreland Elementary as a permanent sub, and in time became a full time teacher and then an instructional coach. Two years ago, she became the assistant principal. She applied for the principal job after Yeager retired.
“She taught us to keep a sense of humor and to always keep things real and be comfortable — laughing at yourself even when it is hard,” said Perry. “You couldn’t ask for a better rounded person who was committed to tradition, but kept us abreast of the current educational trends.
“They’re big shoes to fill, but I’m dedicated to fill them and make her proud,” she added.
Director of Curriculum for Coweta County Karen Barker refers to Yeager as “master in our profession.”
Yeager “was always on that innovative edge, reinventing herself and the school,” said Barker. “She was always willing to try new things, always a team player and served as a mentor for me and so many others.”
Even as she was reinventing herself and the school, Yeager was still focused on one thing — “We’re about people, not programs.”
“Beverly taught me that we are about people,” said Perry. “We are not about programs. Our kids come first. If you base your decision on what will help the most kids, it will be the right one every time.”
Coweta County School System Superintendent Dr. Steve Barker believes that Yeager’s career and time serving in Coweta County schools have made a real impact on the school district.
“Beverly is one of those who does not come along very often — her level of experience, her love of seeing other people, her relentless work, her sound judgement,” he said. “Trust is probably the most critical component of school leadership. She is a perfect example of someone who everyone trusted.
“The Yeagers are good folks and mean a lot to the community,” he added.
Yeager may not work for the school system or Moreland Elementary anymore, but her legacy will be there and throughout the Coweta County School District for a long time.
“Her legacy did not go away,” said Karen Barker. “When you can step out and leave a legacy that we are still learning from, it is a powerful thing.”
This career could be overwhelming to some, but Yeager has taken it in stride. She does not focus on it being over, but instead is thankful for the experiences and relationships she made.
“Moreland Elementary is truly a community school, and I’ve been blessed to work with so many delightful students and families, and an amazing staff and community,” she said. “In reflection, I hope I led with a vision, passion, compassion, and a sense of humor. It’s been a great journey. I have loved every minute of it. Now, I’m eager to chart a new course. I know there is a second chapter coming.”