Cielo Vista Elementary turned Monday, June 6th into Make your Mark Day — celebrating the legacy of three teachers retiring this June after a combined 110 years in EPISD.
The day started with a school-wide assembly showcasing the choir that led up to a surprise presentation honoring Xavier Murillo, Christine Nebhan and Eileen Moye-Garretson.
“They have left a mark on so many young lives,” principal Katherine McMillan said. “They’ve left on a mark where these kids had to be held back almost (during the assembly) because they wanted to run up and hug each one of these teachers who are very special to them.”
Physical education teacher Murillo retires with 46 years of service to EPISD including 28 at Cielo Vista. Both Nebhan, a first grade teacher, and Eileen Moye-Garretson, a second grade teacher, taught at Cielo Vista for their entire careers. They retire with 31 and 34 years, respectively.
“When children see the teachers in the cafeteria, they are always greeting them with joy,” McMillan said. “The children are really going to miss having these wonderful teachers helping them.”
Tears rolled down the eyes of Cielo Vista students and teachers as the third through fourth graders serenaded Murillo, Nebhan and Moye-Garretson with the classic song “Smile.”
“It’s been a joy working for the district but it’s time to move on,” said Murillo, a former Elementary Teacher of the Year finalist.
His philosophy: “Always the kids first. That’s what we’re here for.”
Moye-Garretson and her family have a rich history with EPISD. Her father H.R. Moye’s legacy is remembered through the EPISD elementary school name in his honor. Her retirement marks the first time since 1948 that a Moye hasn’t worked for EPISD.
“I’m going to miss these guys so much,” she said. “The kids are going to be the hardest part to leave.”
Moye-Garretson feels fortunate to have been able to spend her entire career at Cielo Vista.
“This has been home,” she said. “I fell in love with this school and I never wanted to go anywhere else — although I thought about going to Moye for a while but I couldn’t leave here.”
The day continued with students leaving their own impression of the last school year marking up the pavement in front of the campus with chalk drawings and messages to the retiring teachers.
Nebhan sat on the ground drawing with a group of fifth graders, many holding back tears.
“My job has been a blessing. There hasn’t been one bad time,” Nebhan said. “I’ve fallen in love with all the kids. They’re like family because I don’t have a family. I’m going to miss them.”
Students crowded around her reminiscing about their time in her classroom and enjoying the last few moments of their school year together.
“I’m new here and she’s been nice to me ever since I got here,” said Zoe Sisneros, a fifth grader. “She’s like a mother to me. I’ll never forget her.”