Published: Aug 18, 2011 10:32 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- It's a bitter-sweet start to the school year for one Lee County teacher.

Riverdale High English teacher Mary Hill is receiving a lifetime achivement award after spending 42 years teaching at the school.

As head of the English department she also helps run the school's I.B. program. It's a job her students and their parents say she's excelled at over the years.

"She taught my mom and and my mom still remembers her! And she's really embarrassed I just said that," said one student.
 
Mrs. Hill first set foot in a classroom in 1970, when Richard Nixon was president and chalkboards were still in the classroom.

"I'm used to an overhead projector and now there are smart boards in every room, ditto machines to make copies and now, they are Xerox machines, ipads and nooks. Technology keeps changing," Hill said.

Now, decades of dedication and commitment to students has earned the 1985 Teacher of the Year a lifetime achievement award from the district. It's the first time the award is being handed out, and created in part because of Hill's career.

"They said that when the committee met, I'd been here too many years and that it was more than annual tribute that they wanted to make," Hill explained.

The award is bitter-sweet. The class of 2012 will be Mrs. Hill's last. She's retiring come the end of the year.

Lee County school board members including superintendent, Dr. Joseph Burke, will recognize Mrs. Hill's with an award at a board meeting next week.