Faculty, parents, students and family surprised a well-loved Horseshoe Bend first-grade teacher Shannon Milner for her retirement after 30-plus years.

Milner’s daughter told her they were headed to softball practice, but instead when Milner drove up she was greeted by signs, applause and lots of appreciation Thursday afternoon.

“She is the hardest working lady I know,” HBS principal James Aulner said. “She’s just a hardworking teacher who loves her babies.”

Milner’s co-teacher Erica Sammons said she was a sweet friend with lots of talents.

“She likes to sing, play piano, bake cakes,” Sammons said. “She’s just the sweetest person and the biggest Christian.”

Teacher Vicki Lewis said, “We could come up with a whole list of positive adjectives to describe her.”

About five minutes after Milner arrived, a siren sounded and a police truck turned the corner of the school parking lot with lights flashing. Milner was completely shocked when a parade of nearly 30 cars followed the truck and shouted words of love and support as well as passed out gifts and sentimental signs.

“She’s going to be very missed,” HBS assistant principal Tammy Richardson said. “She is so loving, patient, energetic and has a Godly presence. I will miss her both professionally and personally.”

Milner said her time at Horseshoe Bend has been nothing short of amazing and she is sad to leave.

“I’ve been here since they opened the doors,” Milner said. “It’s been awesome here.”

After the parade, Aulner presented Milner with a plaque for her dedication and service for three decades of teaching. Guests lingered to share stories, munch on teacher-themed cookies and snap photos.

“I will miss her sweet, sweet smile,” Aulner said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her without a smile. If we had a school full of Shannon Milners, we would be just fine.”

Amy Passaretti is a staff writer with the Alexander City Outlook.