The Woodward News

Features

May 12, 2013

Veteran educators retiring

School district losing over 125 years of experience at Horace Mann

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — LUCKY TO TEACH IN WOODWARD

Besides feeling fortunate that they were each able to make long careers of teaching their favorite grade levels, all 3 women said they have felt fortunate those careers were in Woodward Public Schools.

"We're all thankful that we've retired from such an excellent school system," Lucas said.

"I've been to a lot of different states, conventions, and workshops.  And everywhere I go, the teachers there tell us how lucky we are to teach in Woodward," Brown said.  "Some from bigger districts have even said that they would trade their job with more money for our jobs with our students and our working conditions when we talk to them about Woodward."

And the women said it is not just the school district, but the community as a whole that has helped to make for a positive teaching environment.

"When I came here, I felt Woodward just open its arms to me.  The people were friendly and nice and it's still that way," Lucas said.

And while both Brown and Harrington were Woodward graduates and so were just returning home to teach, they have also have received validation from the community.

"Woodward is an outstanding community and it's our community; it's always been very supportive," Harrington said.

NOT AN EASY DECISION

The decision to retire has not been easy for any of these dedicated educators.

"There was a lot of prayer and a lot of thought that went into making the decision," Harrington said.  "It's never easy to decide to retire, but all of us inside realize at some point that it's just time."

"I'm always tearing up," Brown said.

"We all still cry," Harrington said.

And they're not the only ones who are emotional; they know their students will miss them.

"I had one come in today who just got the memo that I'm leaving, he jetted around this desk and grabbed me and started sobbing," Harrington said.  "I told him that I was still going to be around."

In fact, all 3 women still plan to continue to be involved in education after their retirement, whether it is through substitute teaching, tutoring or just volunteering with the district.

"We'll still be back," Brown said.

After teaching for so long, Lucas said it would be hard to just leave altogether.

"School has become a second family to us," she said.

But besides helping out at the schools where they can, the women said they haven't made many other plans for their retirement yet.

"I just made one huge decision, I can't make anymore right now," Harrington said.

"The idea that we're going to retire has to really soak in first," Lucas said.

However, the women said that retirement will give them "more time for our families," Harrington said.

Brown said she will "go and see my grandkids," who live in New Jersey and Texas.  She has 3 granddaughters, 1 grandson and another grandchild on the way.

Eventually the women said they expect they will find plenty to do during retirement.

"Everybody tells us we're going to be just as busy or even busier after retirement," Brown said.

"We all just look forward to the next chapter to see what it will involve.  It's exciting to wonder what's going to happen," Harrington said.

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