(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Randy Rose, junior high principal, welcomed guests and spoke briefly on what Hayden had meant to him during his career.
Serena Duffel, PTO president, presented Hayden with a plaque in appreciation for her service to the district.
"Ms. Hayden has been a joy to work with," Duffel said. "We are going to miss her and the kids are going to miss her. When we dropped our kids off at school we always saw Ms. Mari there to greet each child with a smile. Thank you, Mari. You will be missed."
Teachers presented Hayden with well wishes and a golf club to use in her retirement days.
Tim Bassing served as spokesman.
"This is a celebration of someone who lived well and used her life in a useful way," Bassing said. "We are here to celebrate with you, not say goodbye."
Bassing said the words that came to mind in describing Ms. Hayden are non-judgmental, respect, intelligent, and principal.
"The work principal last letters spell Pal," Bassing said. "That is because the principal is our pal. That is what she is to so many of us. There are times when she took care of me, times I know she was praying for me, and times she put her arm around me and told me it would be all right."
He read an inspirational writing entitled "Do It Any Way." At the end, he said it was written by Mother Teresa.
"Hayden is our Mother Teresa of Leachville," he said.
Hayden has 27 years in education. She taught one year at Manila before starting in the Leachville/BIC district where she taught special education before becoming elementary principal 15 years ago.
"It has been a good 27 years," Hayden said. "I loved every minute of it. I've worked with wonderful kids."
She said she will be leaving her love for her teachers and her students.
"They are all special," Hayden said.