HANCOCK COUNTY — More than 20 Hancock County school employees called it a career after the 2018-19 school year.
All of the retirees had a role in the education of thousands of students. Two local teachers who led classrooms for more than four decades recently looked back on their experiences for the Daily Reporter.
A lifelong ambition
Jill Wales spent her entire 42-year career in elementary education for Eastern Hancock Schools.
“As a child, that was what I always wanted to do,” she said of teaching, adding she often played school when she was a young girl.
Wales said she always liked Eastern Hancock’s smaller size, which she said allows for a tight-knit community that extends beyond the classroom.
“I enjoyed getting to know not only the children, but also their families,” she said.
The recently retired educator is looking forward to going on church trips and spending time with her children and grandchildren. But she’s not leaving teaching for good, she said, adding she plans to offer her services as a substitute teacher in the future.
As teachers like Wales retire, others are entering the field. Passion is a prerequisite for everyone considering the profession, she said.
“You need to make sure that you really love being around kids and you need to realize that going into it,” she said. “This isn’t going to be a job that’s for the money.”
It’s anything but a 9-to-5 job, Wales added.
“This is something that is going to take up time before school, after school, on the weekends; it’s just something you truly have to be dedicated to.”
‘I really enjoyed helping kids’
Stan Daugherty retired from the L.I.F.E. Center at Mt. Vernon High School after working for 43 years in education and coaching at five high schools and two colleges.
Daugherty grew up in Alexandria in Madison County, where he said he had excellent teachers and coaches.
“When I was young, I loved school and I loved athletics, so I knew pretty early I was going to be a teacher and a coach,” he said.
He led the L.I.F.E. Center since it started three years ago. The center’s acronym stands for Learning Is For Everyone, and its goal is to ensure students earn a high school diploma. It provides a smaller environment and fewer distractions than a traditional high school while allowing students to complete their studies using online curriculum.
Daugherty headed the alternative education program at Delta High School in Delaware County before coming to Mt. Vernon.
“I really enjoyed helping kids,” he said. “Kids who maybe normally wouldn’t graduate are able to graduate when they come into these programs.”
Like Wales, Daugherty isn’t completely calling it quits, either. He’s working for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a faith-based athletic organization he’s volunteered for in the past.
He said he’s seen a lot of changes in education throughout his four decades in the field, many of them having to do with accountability and state regulations. It can be overwhelming, he continued, adding his advice to educators just starting out is to remain engaged in their teaching.
“I would just encourage the younger teachers to just stay focused on the day-to-day work and particularly stay focused on the students that you’re helping,” he said.
At a glance
Here is a list of retirees from Hancock County’s public school districts this year.
Eastern Hancock Schools
Dave Pfaff, EHMS/HS principal
Mark Vail, EHES physical education teacher
Jill Wales, EHES teacher
Marvin Griffin, G-C maintenance
John Grose, G-CHS custodian
Sharon Johnson, G-CHS custodian
Elizabeth Kuhn, Eden Elementary/Maxwell Intermediate speech/language pathologist
Kendra Leary, G-CHS discipline secretary
Sharon Lime, G-CHS math
Johnnie McPherson, Maxwell Intermediate custodian
Tammy Oser, G-C audiologist
Donald Scott, G-C school psychologist
Jill Slinker, G-CHS english
Candy Smith, G-CHS science
Ann Vail, G-C associate superintendent
Lee Ann Vaughn, G-CHS special education
Dave Walker, G-C director of Catamount
Tony Zurwell, G-C business manager
Mt. Vernon Schools
Stan Daugherty, MVHS director of alternative education
Candy Downey, MV bus driver
Beverly White, MVHS cafeteria staff
Southern Hancock Schools
Justin Crowder, SH school psychologist
Don Perdue, SH director of maintenance and grounds
A list of retiring faculty and staff members from the county’s four public school districts is on Page AX.
We asked you to reminisce about teachers that made an impact on your life. Here is what you told us. Page AX