The Starkville School District knows that teachers are amazing people, and that is why each year, the SSD hosts a luncheon to remember the retired teachers of the district.
A variety of retired teachers — from first years to several decades off the job — come together for a yummy meal planned by Nutrition Director Beverly Lowry and to visit with their former co-workers.
Current SSD administrators and school board members join in the festivities and listen to stories of the glory days. One of the most special aspects of the close-nit educators of the SSD is that many who teach now were taught by the retired teachers.
Armstrong Middle School Principal Elizabeth Mosley reconnected with her science teacher Sue Blackburn, who has been retired for nine years.
“It’s so special because we get to come back and see each other and see who has recently retired, and it just brings back all the good memories we have from teaching,” Blackburn said of the luncheon. “If I had it to do all over, I would chose teaching again,” she added fondly.
Blackburn added that one of the highlights from her teaching career was the program Faces of Hope. It was funded by Mississippi State University to help with at-risk students, she said.
Third grade teacher Carrin Hawkins, who has been retired for 21 years, retold stories about the “boys rolling tires, and the girls doing double dutch,” with her fellow teachers.
“The Starkville School District was a wonderful system to teach in,” Hawkins said. “The friendships I formed with teaches and students are some of the fondest memories I have.”
Ethel Whisler, who retired in Sept. 2001, was the former principal of Ward Stewart Elementary, and for her, the luncheon was an extra special treat because it was the first time she had been back to the school since the completion of the construction, she said.
Just as the SSD takes time to show appreciation to retired teachers, so do former student in some cases. Retired high school librarian Cattie Taylor, who retired in 1984, said that one of the most touching stories of her teaching years came after she retired.
“I got a telephone call from a student who graduated in the 60s,” Taylor said. “He had found my number and remembered it was my birthday, and he called me to wish me a happy birthday and to tell me how much I meant to him,” she said warmly.