Woodward, Okla. —
After 33 and a half years as an educator, Darrel Jones of the Woodward Middle School will be retiring at the end of the semester.
"I teach technology engineering, I'm a TSA advisor, and I've coached football for over 33 years. I've coached track for 30 years and wrestling for 4 years while my oldest was wrestling. I've been around a while, done a lot, and loved every minute of it," Jones said of his long career with Woodward Public Schools.
Jones' outstanding career as a teacher and coach has not gone unrecognized. In addition to being a favorite amongst students, Jones was named Woodward Teacher of the Year in 2005 and received the Oklahoma Coach of the Year award in 2007.
"I was actually a Teacher of the Year finalist for 4 years. I finally won the last year, so I guess perseverance paid off," he said.
He has also received a Teacher Excellence Award for Technology Engineering from the International Technology Education Association.
Jones said he is retiring from education so that he may pursue another career.
"I've been offered a position with Chesapeake, its all worked out. The timing is not great, I hadn't planned to leave in the middle of the year, but as far as the opportunity is concerned I think its an incredible one. I'm at the age I can still work, so I've decided to retire from teaching, then work at this new career for another 8 to 10 years in order to get ready for the final retirement," he said.
Jones made it clear that his decision to retire was not an easy one.
"It's one of the toughest things I've ever done," he said. "But I think it may be a wise move right now. I'm hoping everything goes well.
When asked what he'll miss most, Jones said, "Obviously I'll miss the kids, they kept things interesting. Not to mention my coworkers that I've worked with so closely, that'll be tough. I'm used to seeing them every day, but we'll still stay in touch."
Since he has spent much of his career teaching technology and being an advisor to the Technology Student Association, Jones said there is one group of kids that he will have an even harder time leaving.
"I'm gonna miss the TSA kids like no other," he said. "I've talked with them and I'll still be doing Saturday morning conferences with them and hopefully we'll qualify for regionals."
Jones concluded acknowledging the difficulty of his decision but remaining optimistic about his future prospects.
"I've been teaching for 33 and a half years, I guess its time for a little change. It's not the ideal time, but it's a great opportunity. I feel like things are going in a very good direction, but I've had a great career here at Woodward Middle School, so leaving is a bitter sweet," he said.