North Shore Elementary crowns Izella McCree 'Queen for the Day' to celebrate 50 years of service

Izella McCree tried to retire once in 2004 after 40 years of service with Pinellas County Schools, but for someone who knew she wanted to be in education since high school, that proved more difficult than expected.

“I couldn’t stand it. I was going crazy,” McCree said of her very brief time off. “I was bored. I missed the children. I said, ‘My babies need me. I’ve got to go back.’”

McCree, better known as “Grandmama McCree,” will turn 82 years old in December. She has worked in the Pre-K classrooms at North Shore Elementary School for five years after being at Lakewood Elementary for 30 years and James B. Sanderlin in between. Oct. 22 marked her 50-year anniversary with the district.

“Grandmama McCree is the heart of North Shore Elementary. She is loved by every single child, every adult, teacher, parent and associate at the school,” said North Shore Principal Heidi Bockover. “She knows what makes the children want to be better.”

Her school celebrated her last week during its monthly assembly by making her "Queen for the Day." McCree was surprised by each grade level’s special tribute – from cards and flowers to homemade banners and sweet treats. Her son, daughter and grandson even made an appearance, with her grandson walking her down the red carpet.

“I just love every one of them – I don’t care where they came from or where they’re going,” McCree said. “It has been such a joy. If I had to do it over again, I would do it all over again.”

In addition to her classroom support, McCree also volunteers with the ‘little ones’ in her church nursery and enjoys watching football on the weekends. She says several former students have been through various professional football organizations.

“When I see some of the kids now, as adults, it brings tears to my eyes,” McCree said. “If I can make a difference in their lives, that encourages me.”

McCree has no plans for a second retirement. She is having too much fun.

“I think I’ll be here until they push me out the door!”