Retired CES teachers reuniteBy Emily Etheredge Published 4:05pm Thursday, November 15, 2012
Retired Clanton Elementary School teacher Pam Jones described her favorite part of teaching as the moment the “light” came on.
“I have always known I would be a teacher,” Jones said. “I think the Lord put me on this earth to teach school.”
Jones was part of a retired group of Clanton Elementary teachers that gathered Thursday for lunch at Clanton Elementary School to reunite and reminisce about the years spent teaching school.
Jones taught first grade for 27 years at Clanton Elementary and was the youngest schoolteacher to be hired in Chilton County.
“I was 21 when I got the job,” Jones said. “I think I looked like I was 12 years old at the time but they hired me.”
Mary Sansom taught second grade for 27 years after her high school counselor talked her into considering teaching elementary school.
“I was a senior at the time and my school counselor said she thought I would be a good teacher so that is what I decided to do,” Sansom said. “I stuck with it and just really enjoyed it.”
Sansom said her favorite part of teaching second graders was watching them improve noting that at the time she started teaching school in 1972 she had 35 students in her classroom.
Current Clanton Elementary School Principal Rebecca Threlkeld said the gathering of the retired teachers is an annual event meant for the teachers to reunite with one another.
“We also like to tell them how everything is going at the school as well as things that have changed and thank them for their service,” Threlkeld said.
Millicent Heflin taught second grade at Clanton Elementary for 22 years acknowledging the first few years of teaching were the most enjoyable.
“Every year gets harder after you first start teaching,” Heflin said.
As the teachers gathered around sharing stories of different experiences while teaching school, several noted how times had changed including females being allowed to wear pants in the early 1970s, lack of male teachers teaching and only male principals as well as the actual elementary building moving to a new location in the early ‘70s.
“A lot of men just didn’t teach elementary school back then,” Laura Harrison, former second grade teacher said. “It was a standard thing for a man to be the principal of the school.”
Although many things have changed throughout the years, when the teachers gathering around the room were instructed to eat lunch Thursday, they quickly and methodically organized a single file lunch line and the characteristics that made them previously command respect from an audience of eager young pupils remained.
“Teaching school was a wonderful job,” Jones said. “Although there were times when you would have a heartbreaking situation and know there was no way to fix everything, the children made it truly enjoyable.”