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“Retirement – now the fun begins”

Published 8:25pm Tuesday, May 13, 2014

“The mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains.  The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires.”  This quote by William A. Ward could have been about many different teachers in my life.  Over the years, the list may have become a little fuzzy in my brain, but the teachers that truly inspired me during my youth remain crystal clear in my memory.
Each year, several teachers retire from our local schools.  I know most of them and appreciate their lifetime of sacrifice for the job they do in educating our kids.   However, there is one teacher in my life that inspired me more than any other and this will be the only chance I will ever have to write about her retirement.
My wife, Mary Lou, began teaching in 1978.  She was given a somewhat challenging class at Early County High School.  It is a wonder that she didn’t change careers after that first year.
She took off twice, once when our girls were born, and once to carpool them around in their teenage years.   While the years of employment were less, there was never any doubt it was the right decision for her and for our children.
Along the way, she occasionally taught a class or subject that wasn’t in her field of interest.   She once taught a different subject every single period during the day.  That was a long year.
From my perspective, however, she grew in her job.  History was always her first love.  She wasn’t always fond of Economics, but since that was my degree, she got the hang of it.   Government was always a topic around our house.
Mary Lou went from being a good teacher to a superior teacher.  Along the way, I think she became a great teacher.  Like the quote says, she inspired some of her students.  Henry Adams once said “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
I don’t know about eternity, but nothing swells my heart with pride like hearing a parent and child tell her at the same time about how much she meant to them individually as their teacher.
When you look back on your life, there can’t be much that is more satisfying than knowing you made a difference in someone’s life.  It is more than money or fame could ever be.
As Mary Lou said in her Baccalaureate speech, this is a changing season in her life.  I hope that she and I both have many fond memories of this next season of retirement.  I will not be surprised if she continues to inspire some along the way.
So to Mary Lou and to all the retiring teachers in our school and beyond, I would say well done.  Congratulations.
Enjoy your retirement because you have earned it.

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