"We Love This Place"
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
JUNE 8, 2021 – At Clemmons Middle, Tommy Witt teaches PE and health and serves as the Athletic Director.
At Clemmons Middle, Marcia Mahaffey teaches PE and health.
They have been working together at the school since 2000, and, since 2010, they have been married.
“It’s a real good partnership at school working together,” Mahaffey said.
Both have decided it is time to retire. Although they feel as if the time as come, Mahaffey said, “It was still a hard decision.”
“We love this place,” Witt said.
Sandra Hunter is the principal at Clemmons Middle.
“How do you begin to describe the two cornerstones of our school?” Hunter said.
“I first met Tommy Witt when he was a teacher and coach at North Forsyth High School. He immediately impressed me with his compassion and love for the kids and the school. We lost touch for a few years and then reconnected in 2004 at Clemmons Middle School, at which time I also met Marcia Mahaffey.”
“They quickly became my ‘go-to’ teachers for questions/concerns about classes, sports, school events and activities.”
“Tommy and Marcia helped build the foundation of Clemmons Middle School from the time it first opened in 1999.
“Their combined dedication to our students and school cannot be matched. As teachers, coaches, colleagues, friends, and mentors, they have positively touched the lives of thousands. I can’t imagine the countless number of hours they spent teaching, planning, coaching, transporting students to and from events, and being there for students and staff.”
Witt and Mahaffey got to know each other over time working together at Clemmons Middle. They would chat with each other about such topics as how the teams they coached were doing.
Both were available but, Mahaffey joked, early on it, didn’t seem to register with him that she might be interested in getting to know him better.
He would go to Carolina football games with his buddies only until a time in 2001 when the game had to be rescheduled and his buddies couldn’t join him. He had an extra ticket. Did she think she might be interested in going with him?
“It just kind of happened,” Witt said.
Carolina beat Florida State in a big upset and Witt declared that she had brought good luck.
“I kept getting asked to games after that,” Mahaffey said.
They started spending more time together and would do such things as go out to dinner. She made sure to keep it as friends, though, and would insist on paying for her own dinner.
One day, he asked whether it would be OK for him to pick up the check.
They became engaged, and, on Nov. 6, 2010, they married at home plate at what is now Truist Stadium, the home of the Winston-Salem Dash.
Mahaffey is the daughter of Jean and Charles O. Mahaffey Sr. Her mother worked for WS/FCS for 25 years as a receptionist before retiring in 1992.
Witt’s parents Thomas and Mary Witt both worked at the factory that made Goody’s Headache Powders back when the factory was in Winston Salem. When he was old enough, he started working there during the summer.
Both are products of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
Mahaffey graduated from Parkland High in 1983. Along the way, she attended such schools as Griffith Elementary, along with some schools that are no longer part of the system, including Diggs Intermediate, Griffith Junior High and Anderson High.
Although Witt graduated from Parkland three years later in 1986, they never met there. Along the way, he attended such schools as Bolton Elementary and Mount Tabor High, along with some schools that are no longer part of the system, including Dalton Junior High.
Growing up, Mahaffey participated in clubs and played the sports available to girls – volleyball, basketball and softball.
“I made all-conference my senior year in softball and volleyball,” she said. “I liked school so much I was going to become a teacher.”
Witt started playing football with the Pop Warner League when he was young and played football and baseball through high school.
He was interested in coaching – “I didn’t know where or what” – so he knew he needed to become a teacher.
He headed to High Point University. While he was there, he would come back to Parkland and help coach football and basketball.
Mahaffey headed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in physical education and health education. When she graduated in 1987, he found a job teaching at what was then Ashley Middle.
After eight years at Ashley, life took her to Asheville. After teaching at Charles D. Owen Middle School for five years, she came back here and, in 2000, began teaching and coaching girls’ volleyball at Clemmons Middle.
Witt was already there. After teaching at North Forsyth where he had coached football and basketball, he had gone to John F. Kennedy, which, at the time, focused on middle school students. When Clemmons Middle opened in 1999, he joined many others from Kennedy in going there.
He continued to coach football, basketball and baseball at high schools until he became the Athletic Director at the school four years ago. After he took on that responsibility, he gave up coaching high school football.
Witt made the point that his wife is an excellent coach, noting that her volleyball record is 172-45.
Because both have such different schedules they always drive to school separately.
Although both still thoroughly enjoy their jobs, it’s time to retire. In fact, they decided that last school year. But, when it turned out that students were no longer coming to the building, they didn’t want to end their careers on that note.
This year, they have had the satisfaction of being able to work with students in person.
One thing retirement will offer is a bit more flexibility. Because both teach PE and health, they haven’t ever both take the same day off during the school year because they didn’t want to create staffing problems.
Witt doesn’t have firm plans for what comes next other than to take it easy for a bit.
“The first six months I’m going to enjoy myself,” Witt said.
After that, he certainly may begin coaching again or driving a bus as a way to continue to spend time with young people.
Mahaffey plans to take care of some projects at their house. It was built in the 1930s and, for one, the time has come to remodel the kitchen.
She is also looking forward to spending more time in the garden.
And they plan to attend a lot of sports games.
Under the leadership of Witt and Mahaffey, Clemmons Middle developed a really strong sports program, Hunter said.
“With Mr. Witt as Athletic Director, the school earned 16 championships. During their years of coaching, Ms. Mahaffey’s teams won 15 Championships (1 Track and Field, 1 Softball and 13 Volleyball) and Mr. Witt’s teams won 8 Championships (7 Basketball and 1 Volleyball).”
“When Mr. Witt was not coaching at Clemmons Middle School, he compiled a winning record of 102-16 coaching JV Basketball at West Forsyth High School with five conference titles.”
“When I think about the impact their retirement will have on our school – such as rebuilding the PE Department, replacing the Athletic Director and finding sponsors for the schoolwide activities such as the Student Council, Team Time Together and Spirit Week, to name just a few, it makes me want to join them in retirement.”
“Marcia and Tommy have had very impressive careers. I am so grateful for their guidance, assistance, and outstanding leadership through the years, but, most importantly, I am so very appreciative of their friendship.”
“I can’t imagine working without them but wish them the very best as they embark on a new journey together.”
“As they fly from the Cardinals’ nest, Tommy and Marcia will be dearly missed.”
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