When Elvina Knight began her career in the Caesar Rodney School District in 1976, disco was all the rage, Gerald Ford was still president and “Laverne and Shirley” had just made its TV debut.

When Elvina Knight began her career in the Caesar Rodney School District in 1976, disco was all the rage, Gerald Ford was still president and “Laverne and Shirley” had just made its TV debut.

Now, after 38 years of service to Caesar Rodney High School, Knight is retiring, effective June 30.

Knight was hired as a Spanish teacher at Caesar Rodney High School in December 1976, and has spent her entire career at the school.

At the time, she had just graduated from Clarion State College in Pennsylvania, where she studied Spanish and education.

Knight last week said her desire to teach Spanish came from her own experience of coming to America from Udine, Italy, when she was four.

“I thought what better way, knowing first hand after coming over and not knowing a language, to help others,” Knight said.

Knight began teaching in January in a temporary position that opened up when the former Spanish teacher was promoted. She taught for the remainder of the year, but when summer came she was handed a pink slip and wasn’t certain she would be returning the next year. Back then teacher retention was based on student enrollment, Knight said.

“You had a staff, but if your projected enrollment didn’t look good then those that were hired last are going to be let go, with the hope of coming back,” she said.

Luckily in August, she was asked to come back and taught both English and Spanish. But once again, at the end of the school year, she received a pink slip. The following year she was invited back and hasn’t left since.

Knight spent roughly 15 years teaching a combination of English and Spanish, before fully dedicating her time to Spanish. All told, she spent 20 years in the classroom, before looking for a way to move forward.

She pursued a master’s degree in counseling, but she ended up becoming dean of students, which meant she handled all student services. She spent three years in that position.

“I also worked in tandem with the administrators and if they had tasks on their plate that I felt I wanted to learn, I would say ‘why don’t you let me try that’ so the role just kind of grew,” she said.

That position gave Knight insight into what an administrator was responsible for and piqued her interested in moving up once again.

She spent roughly a year and a half completing a certification in administration and filled an assistant principal opening at the high school. She spent nine years in that role, after which she was promoted to principal, a position she has held for seven years.

Knight said her favorite part of her job has been the kids.

“I love watching the kids come in as freshmen and handing them their diploma and shaking their hand on the day they walk across the stage because you’ve seen them develop,” she said. “You sit back and say ‘I remember when he or she came in as ninth graders and wow look where they’ve come to today.’”

Both the district and the high school have been lucky to have someone like Knight, Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald said.

“Her intricate knowledge of the school process has provided CRHS students opportunities to take a multitude of courses ,which will benefit their careers,” he said. “Under her leadership, the high school has grown every year to its current enrollment of more than 2,100 students. She has truly left her mark on so many students, parents and staff and will be missed both as a leader and as a friend.”

Sherry Kijowski, who is currently the principal at McIllvaine Early Childhood Center, will succeed Knight as the principal of Caeser Rodney High.

Knight said she plans to spend her retirement working on projects around the house. She’ll also be attending her youngest daughter’s wedding and she’ll share in the duties of shuttling her grandson to and from preschool.

But, she added, her retirement might not last long.

She’s looking into coming back part time after a six month break, perhaps as a consultant.

But whether or not she returns, she will still have the memories she gathered in her 38 years at Caesar Rodney High school.

“I think if you can walk away from a job and take those memories with you and those friendships with you, that’s worth everything,” she said.