CLOVER -- Wendy Bartee had personal stake in the school system when she joined the Clover School Board in 1984. Her four sons' presence in Clover schools helped forge her focus of "children first."
Her time with the board held many accomplishments, but the largest of them all came in the indelible mark she left at home. No one was more impressed than her oldest son, Bill.
"I was proud as a teenager when she ran (for the Clover School Board)," Bill said. "I was proud as a Clover High School graduate because, as a school board member, she was able to hand me my degree. And now I'm proud as she is retiring and letting some new blood come in.
"As a son, you always want to make your mother proud, but I'm happy to say that my mother has made me proud," he said.
Bartee's children are long gone from the Clover school system and raising her five grandchildren, but she remains, at least for a few more months.
Last week marked Bartee's last school board meeting. She's stepping down from her at-large seat after deciding not to seek reelection.
Her tenure has been described by members of the school board and Clover district employees as genuine and passionate. Although she enjoyed every minute on the Clover School Board, Bartee simply said "it was time" to step down.
"I've been there for 24 years," she said. "Although I loved doing it, I want to give someone else an opportunity."
Bartee will retire on the heels of a year that saw Clover High School garner state championships in football, band and chorus.
Now, the board is preparing for a spring bond referendum and the opening of two new schools next fall.
She says the school board will be left in good hands.
"They are there to serve the children and not personal ambitions," Bartee said. "I've enjoyed working with them all."
The school board members shared similar feelings, as Chairman Steve Brown offered praise for Bartee and the wealth of knowledge she gathered on Clover school matters throughout her tenure.
"I'd love to see her stay," Brown said. "She has a lot of valuable information. She can tell you how things were handled in similar situations 10, 15 or 20 years ago."
Bartee has seen many changes throughout her 24-year stay on the school board. She lists technological advances like Promethean Boards and computers as tools that came into use during her tenure.
"All the technology has been a big help to our educational system," Bartee said. "I remember the first person we hired to do computer and technology at Clover. In the old days we had black and green boards with white chalk. It's been really interesting to see the changes."
Her position in the community helped the school board pass three referendums in her tenure. Brown said she helped him when he attained his chairman position 12 years ago, and informed him on the value of working with area residents.
"She has really been a person who stays in touch with the community," Brown said. "She's taught me a lot about how to involve the community in decisions."
Teresa Glass, retired public and personal information director for York County School District 2, is another co-worker more than willing to make a testament to Bartee's dedication and ability. Glass said no one was more qualified to serve on the Clover School Board than Bartee.
"I can't imagine anybody providing more selfless service to the children," Glass said. "She always kept the children in mind when making decisions and has been an asset to the school board. You don't get but one Wendy Bartee."
Although she is retiring, Bartee is far from inactive. She enjoys hiking, reading books and playing Bridge in her spare time. But she doesn't have much free time, as she is the president of the Clover Women's Club, she teaches Sunday School and lives on an Angus farm with her husband, Ted, where they raise cattle.