A. Quinn Jones Center celebrates staff retirement 

Brenda Ferguson's retirement table
Brenda Ferguson retired after 36 years at the A. Quinn Jones Center on Wednesday. (Photo by Taryn Ashby)

Imagine it’s 1986. A stamp costs 22 cents, unemployment is 7%, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch and the Oprah Winfrey Show hits national television. 

Also, 1986 marks the beginning of Brenda Ferguson’s tenure at the A. Quinn Jones Center.  

The young, hopeful woman entered the doors of the small brick school building, not realizing she will stay for quite a while.  

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Fast forward to the present day. 

Teachers, staff, friends and family gathered inside the A. Quinn Jones Center on Wednesday to celebrate Ferguson’s retirement after 36 years of service.  

Brenda Ferguson seeing her garden for the first time at Wednesday’s retirement party.
Photo by Taryn Ashby Brenda Ferguson seeing her garden for the first time at Wednesday’s retirement party.

“I worked right in the front office,” Ferguson said in an interview. “I worked several positions there, but the best was the database. I got to take care of all the kids. I was able to calm them down and offer up help for whatever they needed.”  

Her position as the database clerk meant Ferguson oversaw student registration, created schedules, and arranged buses, among other things. 

“She didn’t have to write anything down,” said Alberta Bing, A. Quinn Jones Center Principal, in an interview. “She knew every child’s first and last name and what they needed when seeing her. I don’t know how she does it. She has a unique system, and I would never try to figure it out myself.”  

The afternoon was filled with speeches, photos, food, and presentations. The school staff composed a video giving gratitude and thanks to Ferguson.  

During the school year, Ferguson planted vibrant green vines in front of the school’s sign, then began planting smaller flowers and plants around the area.  

The dedication sign for the garden planted in honor of Brenda Ferguson.
Photo by Taryn Ashby The dedication sign for the garden planted in honor of Brenda Ferguson.

Paying homage to her work, the faculty planted a small garden named after her in front of the school.  

“I didn’t know they were going to have this out here,” Ferguson said. “It makes me feel quite wonderful, a touch to my heart.”  

Over 40 individuals hugged her goodbye, with tears ensuing. Stories were shared amongst the crowd, resulting in laughs and applause. Still, a melancholy feeling was in the air as the event ended.  

“I will miss her genuineness and how she makes people feel,” Bing said. “She made everyone feel like we could talk to her about anything. It didn’t matter what race, gender, age, or religion. She loved everybody.” 

As for retirement plans, Ferguson and her sister have decided to take this time to feed the homeless three days a week, so she can continue giving back and helping others.  

Ferguson’s final words for the A. Quinn Jones Center were, “lots of love, lots of love planted here. Thank you.” 

Brenda Ferguson surrounded by her family and friends.
Photo by Taryn Ashby Brenda Ferguson surrounded by her family and friends.
Garden dedication at Brenda Ferguson's retirement from A.Q. Jones Center on Wednesday.
Photo by Taryn Ashby Garden dedication at Brenda Ferguson’s retirement from A.Q. Jones Center on Wednesday.
Brenda Ferguson's retirement table and poster.
Photo by Taryn Ashby Brenda Ferguson’s retirement table and poster.

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Lin

How beautiful. Wheat a great person.