Four More Staffers Announce Retirements


Rayven Malone

Thomas Holliday, counselor to the stars, is retiring with fellow counselor Patricia Yorke.

Their voices resound through the school halls daily, their names are drenched in either infamy or fame, and their faces are almost as familiar as any family member’s.

Who are these people whose presence is as much a part of Southfield High as the bricks that make it up?  Well it’s the staff of course, and whether you love them or leave them, they become a regular part of life.

Some staffers have been at Southfield High long enough to have watched their students’ parents (and even other Southfield faculty) roam the halls. Yet all good things must come to an end, and each June, students are forced to say goodbye to memorable members of the Southfield High School family.

Leaving with The Class of 2015 are counselors Thomas Holliday and Patricia Yorke, Technology teacher John Shirkey and career center specialist Catherine Miller. School Principal Michael Horn announced his retirement at an earlier date. All of the staff members that are retiring this year have 20 years or more in education.


Counselor Holliday said he has reached a point where he wants to learn something new and do something different, so he’s retiring.  Out of  his 30 years in education, he did not teach anywhere other than Southfield High. He has dedicated himself to this school; he even changed the way homecoming is celebrated. The homecoming dance used to be right after the homecoming game and students wore whatever they wanted. He asked if he could change it. The principal told him, “I’m giving you one year” and that one year changed tradition.

In 1984, Holliday started as a substitute teacher at Southfield High. He was hired full time in 1986 as a social studies teacher.  At different points in his career he advised Southfield Student Congress, served as detention coordinator and as an assistant principal.

Holliday has two degrees from Eastern Michigan University and one from Clemson University. He started the saying “Go, Blue Jays” that has served as a tagline on morning announcements and on computerized calls home.

Holliday loves cooking and gardening, and on his free time he plans to travel down south to see the football games at Clemson University.

Holliday has been the man seniors go to about graduation information and scholarships, so he hopes that whoever comes in to take his place as a counselor will continue his legacy of  “working hard with the seniors, getting the colleges to come visit, helping with FAFSA, and, most importantly, the scholarships.”

Holliday said, “I gave Southfield Senior High School my everything.” He said, “I loved my job so much I didn’t even realize how I was teaching and helping the kids grow.”


Also retiring from the Counseling Center is Patricia Yoke, who has 28 years in the education business.  Out of all of her years, the last 11 of them have been dedicated the Blue Jays. Her degrees are from Michigan schools – Michigan State University and Oakland University –  but she plans to move south to care for her elderly mother and travel once a year to New York to spend time with her daughter, Allison. She would also like to visit Spain, she said.

Counselor Yorke shared that she will miss talking with all of the kids the most.  When someone comes and takes her position, she would love for them to grow relationships with the kids and “know them by name.” Making sure the kids feel that they are welcomed and able to talk to their counselor about anything is another thing that Yorke says her replacement will want to do.

Yorke said, “I had a wonderful experience.” She said she can’t believe she’s about to open a new chapter in her life, saying, “Life goes by fast!”


Can you picture yourself with 20 years of teaching and buying five years, meaning having a total of 25 years of dealing with kids? Well  Shirkey did it. He has a total of 13 years at Southfield High, with the other seven working in two different cities.

The Wayne State University graduate loves playing the guitar and also sings in his church choir and plans to continue both activities in retirement.

Shirkey said his teaching style was “not to spoon feed the kids but rather to build the kids up to become problem solvers.”

In retirement, Shirkey said he plans to travel to Europe and the Caribbean with his wife, Susan, and to move to Florida.


With 24 years of helping kids, Miller was with the Blue Jays on and off for six years, however, the last four years have been steady at Southfield. Miller said, “It was time to focus on other things and time to start new chapter in life.” Not trying to waste any time, she plans to travel to Mobile, Alabama, where she will have a home of her own built. Most people might not know, but Miller loves to dance and cook in her spare time.  Miller said she will miss “the friendly staff and environment and I will miss working with the kids.” Not fully getting away from kids, she said she plans to spend a lot of time with her grandchildren.

Miller said she hopes that whoever takes her spot in the Career Center next year understands that they are here to help the kids and push them to fill out scholarships. “There are so many opportunities that kids can take advantage of.”