Following her retirement, NHS Early Childhood instructor Kathy Swingley was awarded the Key to the City of Naples from Mayor Teresa Heitman on May 15. Swingley’s dedication to the community prompted this recognition, having served on the Community Services Advisory Board for nine years. 

“I couldn’t fathom how something like that happened to me,” Swingley said. “I was overwhelmed, emotionally.”

Swingley’s more immediate influence on NHS students has been felt within the school’s VPK classroom, Little Eagles. Her work leading the early childhood program at NHS for the past 28 years has provided students with access to the national Child Development Associate (CDA) certification, in addition to providing countless life lessons. 

“I’m just really proud to have been here and I’ve had so many great students, great fellow teachers,” Swingley said. “Everything that I’ve done, I want the next generation of people to pay it forward, how I’ve paid it forward.”  

As far as her retirement plans, Swingley wishes to continue these acts of service as she takes up residence in North Carolina with hopes of volunteering at the National Ski Patrol and applying for a position in the National Park Service. 

“I’m not going to try to recreate a Naples. I just want to make my new community better and be of service just like I’ve been here,” Swingley said. “I didn’t come here trying to change Naples, I just came here to make Naples better.”