Belleview Elementary School Principal Jane Sharp is not afraid to get her hands dirty.
She does lunch duty and goes into classrooms to work with students. People love her.
But after 10 years as a principal in Rock Hill, Sharp is retiring.
The daughter of a Baptist preacher, Sharp has been told she can give her father a run for his money when it comes to preaching the importance of education.
"Schools are the only organizations that have the responsibility for producing the next generation of citizens for society," she said. "What we do is absolutely crucial."
Sharp is one of 34 Rock Hill district employees retiring at the end of this school year. The retirees will be honored at a banquet tonight.
Sharp came to Rock Hill from Ohio in 1998 to become principal of Finley Road Elementary. She moved to Belleview in 2002.
"She wove literacy into every aspect of the school, for children, parents and staff," said Linda Crute, who was Sharp's assistant principal at Finley Road Elementary. Crute serves as principal of Northside Elementary School of the Arts.
"She is a role model for what she wants her teachers to do," Crute said. "She is very hands-on. She's right in there working with you every step of the way."
District Superintendent Lynn Moody described Sharp as an intellectual who is never afraid to suggest new ideas.
"Her interest in research on student achievement is amazing," Moody said. "I have enjoyed sparring back and forth with Jane about a controversial topic because she always challenges me to think."
Under Sharp's leadership, Belleview consistently has met federal standards for Adequate Yearly Progress, even though it has a higher-than-average percentage of students who receive free or reduced-priced school lunches, a measure of poverty.
"I absolutely believe that education is the power that can bring people out of poverty, that can give people hope, that can help people achieve what they need to in their lives," Sharp said.
She credited the school's success to its teachers and to the philosophy that students should be seen as individuals, rather than as groups or subgroups.
John Kirell, an assistant principal who will take over as Belleview's principal this summer, said Sharp goes the extra mile to get parents involved -- even going so far as to drive to their homes, if she needs to.
"She's just able to have those tough conversations and make people realize what needs to be done for the complete success of the student," Kirell said.
Sharp said she has a list of more than 20 things she wants to do in her retirement.
At the top of the list: Taking a master gardening class and working for Habitat for Humanity.
She also plans to spend more time with her mother.
"She is the face of Belleview Elementary School, and I think that's not going to be quick to change just because she is not going to be here every day," Kirell said. "I've already told her I expect her to be in the building often."