DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Superintendent Joseph Pye is wrapping up his last week of school after 52 years of unwavering service and dedication to Dorchester District 2.

It brings an end to an era for the district but begins a new chapter for one of the longest-serving superintendents in the state.

Teacher, principal, superintendent – in one role or another, Joseph Pye has walked the halls of school buildings in Dorchester District 2 for more than 50 years.

“This last week, I’m working as hard as I worked the first week when I started 23 years ago. A rush of memories and things I think we’ve accomplished, but then the side of me that says it’s still not enough. What else could we have done? I wish I had done this; wish I had done that,” said Pye. “Then I have to stop and think, I’m glad I didn’t do this, I’m glad I didn’t do that.  It’s been a mixed bag.”

Pye postponed retirement ten years ago. So, why the decision now? “When you’ve plowed the field as many times as I had, I looked at my poor mule and was like I don’t want anybody to tap me on my shoulders and say it’s past your time, you need to go, and I sort of sensed. I’m never going to be ready, never, but I’m going to do it.”

Celebrations and surprises are taking place across the district to honor Pye’s tenure. He describes his recent visit to Flowertown Elementary, where he worked his first principal job, saying “all down the hallway and they had a parade, Ashley Ridge marching band going through the halls.  All the kids were out in the halls clapping and screaming with the signs.”

More celebrations were held at Pye Elementary, named after the beloved superintendent. “They named the loop Pye Parkway,” Pye said.

Pye ends his career in DD2 in the same place it started – as a teacher.  His office suite is comprised of his former Rollings classroom.

And education runs deep in the Pye family.  His wife is a retired educator, and his son is a principal at Rollings.

“I had a great learning experience my entire career. I’m the average kid, maybe below average that people may not have expected success from,” he remarked.

After so many years in education, his biggest accomplishment? “Never losing sight of I was a blessed person to have this job, any job in education, my love for children, and don’t forget it’s about the children.”

When asked about his biggest challenge, Pye said,” It has always been funding. The district has never had the right funding. The pandemic was also the biggest hurdle for me.”

The hardest part of leaving his district is missing the school staff – including principals, teachers, and students.

“I’m going to miss the kids. I love my job. There are bad moments, but I honestly say that’s why I have stayed so long. I truly love this job. I have 26,000 students, 3,800 employees, and the biggest employer in Dorchester County, so I think I’ve done well as a CEO.  I give all the glory to God.”

At 74, Pye will start a new life lesson. He’s confident that he is leaving the top school district in nurturing hands. When asked about his legacy, a tearful Pye said he gave it his all.

“This has been my life, my whole life,” he said.

Dorchester District 2 will hold a district-wide celebration of his life-long career on Thursday.

Tickets, which are free, can be reserved for the celebration of Summers Coroner Performing Arts Center. News 2’s Octavia Mitchell will serve as emcee.