Forty years and counting!

That's how long Nell Parnell, 80, has been serving Stephenville school children lunch.

Apparently, she deals with change and new faces quite well because she has worked for four superintendents, seven principals, and three nutrition directors all while serving lunch to thousands of kids. And, according to those who know her well, she always does it with a smile.

“If everybody had her personality and positive outlook we'd all live to be 100, Bob Cervetto, Henderson Junior High principal said. “She's awesome. If we were all like her there wouldn't be any problems on this earth. She embodies the human spirit.

Parnell grew up in Lingleville and began working for Central Elementary School in 1968. For 15 of her 22-year tenure, she served as the lunchroom manager.

She officially retired in 1990, but never missed a beat and came back part-time the very next school year. She wanted to start drawing her teacher's retirement money and by doing so she could work part-time and bring more bucks home, she said.

“I love it. I love kids and the Lord has blessed me with the ladies I've worked with, Parnell said. “I feel like if I were to sit down and quit then it wouldn't be long