Sounding the alarm on losing good teachers

Published 3:17 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2013

April 10, 2013

A couple of notable speeches were presented at Monday night’s School Board meeting.

Firstly, Minnie Magee, English and French teacher at Prentiss High School, formally announced to the Board that she would be retiring at the end of this school year.

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Retiring after having stood in front of young people molding, expanding and inspiring minds for 34 years is no small feat.

In her speech to the Board which included a reading of her letter of retirement, Magee quoted scripture from Ecclesiastes referring to there being a time for everything.

“My time has come,” said Magee. And what a sad time it is to know that we will be losing such an experienced educator.

Next up at the Monday meeting was the announcement of the upcoming retirement of Robert (Bobby) Thompson who has taught at Bassfield High School for 30 years. Mainly he taught high school social studies, but he was also the golf coach and was best known to those not involved in the school system as the public address announcer at BHS Yellowjacket football games.

As he spoke he echoed the thoughts of what several educators have been saying lately including Superintendent Haynes: someway, somehow we have to find a way to retain the best teachers.

Bobby is from Bassfield but lives in Oak Grove. He sent his kids to Bassfield school. He has been asked, “Can’t you find a job somewhere besides Jeff Davis County?” His answer is always, “I don’t know, I never tried.”

Talk about loving JDC…Bobby Thompson most definitely does.

Bobby talked about the loss of good teachers in the district and how the problem will only worsen. He insisted the Board and Administration must find a way to make our district more enticing.

Teacher retention is a huge problem in our district. Apparently we hire teachers, train teachers, spend money and time on teachers, and then after all that fine training, they leave for greener pastures.

What’s a greener pasture to some? A town with a Wal-Mart. A school that posts high state test scores. A school that perhaps is not so demanding when it comes to the mountains of paperwork that takes entire nights and all weekend to create.

We don’t have a Wal-Mart, nor do we have traffic jams. We don’t have sky-high test scores, yet, but they are on their way up.

Bobby said Petal High School has some kind of one-page lesson plan…I have no idea what that means, but whatever it is that can make the job more enticing for our good, no great teachers, then let it be done.

The day-to-day influence of Minnie Magee and Bobby Thompson will no longer be a part of Prentiss and Bassfield High Schools after this school year, but the long-term effect of what they imparted on the youth of Jeff Davis County will be felt indefinitely.

Historian Henry Adams once said “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Affecting eternity is no small task, rather it very well may be the most important job on earth. Should we not have the very best for that job?