Retiring faculty members reflect on their years as Vikings


Darlene Joyner looks on in confidence before she wins her second NCHSAA women’s basketball state championship in 2018. She is leaving a great legacy at Northwest after coaching here for over 30 years. Photo by Madison Ayres

When one door closes, another one opens. Northwest staff members are turning a new leaf in retirement and are looking forward to their time off.

Administrator Bert Webb and Varsity Girls’ Basketball coach Darlene Joyner are ending their time as Vikings. Both are excited for a new chapter in their lives, but they also have mixed feelings about leaving their beloved jobs.

“I’m looking forward to retirement,” Webb said, “but at the same time I really love my job, so I’m torn.”

Webb has been at Northwest for seven years after he transferred from Brightwood Elementary School. He will miss his coworkers including assistant principals Tanya Hiller, Donnie Watkins and Kim Gilyard; principal Ralph Kitley; school secretary Sherry Brooks and curriculum facilitator Susan Orr.

“I think I work with (Orr) the closest because our offices are right next to each other,” Webb said.

Orr and Webb have sprouted a great relationship in their years together at Northwest. They have a repartee full of inside jokes and memories.

“We just have these stupid little running jokes between each other that are just dumb,” Orr said. “Like we look at each other and don’t need to say anything.”

Orr says she has learned a great deal from Webb from his experience in school systems and hopes to carry that knowledge with her. She says she is also amazed by his ability to work with numbers and how they relate to the improvement of teachers and students.

“He helps and pushes teachers to be better at their craft,” Orr said. “I find that he’s very good at helping teachers understand the dynamics of a classroom.”

Webb says he has enjoyed every moment spent in evaluating Northwest teachers, and he will also treasure all the students he’s known.

“This school has one of the nicest group of students to work with,” Webb said. “If they transferred me from here, I would (quit).”

Webb says he has a plethora of favorite memories from Northwest, but he says that the senior pranks hold a special place.

“They’re all memorable, some more than others,” Webb said, “but I loved when all the senior guys drive their tractors to school and parked them.”

He also loved when seniors Glad-wrapped the mobiles, even though it was difficult to clean up.

Webb has seen changes in the school over the years, but they are mostly for the better.

“We’ve become much more diverse, and I love that, and I like the fact that I see the goals of the kids change for after high school,” Webb said.

Webb looks forward to having more family time in retirement with his wife and two children, who are both doctors. He also looks forward to activities he wasn’t able to do while working.

“I’m an artist, musician and I fly, so I can do a lot of things that I wasn’t able to do while working,” Webb said.

Webb has left an impact on many people at Northwest. He has seen the school grow throughout the years and will always be remembered as a great traffic conductor and a great administrator as a whole.

“As a friend and as a colleague there’s those opportunities professionally that grow into meaningful relationships,” Orr said, “and he has helped me grow,” Orr said.


Joyner has been a coach at Northwest for 30 plus years. She has been the Varsity women’s softball, basketball and volleyball coach and has walked away with three NCHSAA State Championships. Her legacy at Northwest has been inspiring female athletes for decades.

“I feel very honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to work with the best student athletes on and off the court,” Joyner said.

Joyner has been coaching since 1981 and knows her way around a court or field. She is so proud of all the players that she has coached and will miss all the memories filled with them. Joyner watched so many girls grow into young women as they progressed in athletics and academics.

“You can’t spend as much time as I do with these girls in season without allowing them to leave footprints on your heart,” Joyner said.

Her last memory in the Northwest locker room is revealing the news to the team. Sophomore basketball guard Shaena Riddles recalls the emotional event as a heartfelt moment.

“Everybody started crying, some people were surprised, but I think most of us saw it coming because she has just had a another grandchild,” Riddles said.

Joyner was honored by this flow of emotions, and it brought tears to her eyes. She is happy that even through her tough coaching style, her girls still love and respect her.

“Their emotional reaction attacked my heart,” Joyner said. “(It) brought tears to my eyes and it was hard for me to get the rest of the words out of my mouth.”

Although it seems like a depressing matter, Joyner’s retirement will shine a new light on her growing family.

“I think it’s good because she gets to spend more time with them, especially since they don’t live very close,” Riddles said.

Overall, Joyner has burgeoned the Northwest basketball program and put the school on the map for years to come. With new head coach Michael Everett, the tradition of winning will not cease.

“We return a lot of gifted, intelligent, hard working and driven young ladies who want nothing more than to continue the success,” Joyner said.