With Carthage ISD teachers preparing for their first day of school on Wednesday, many others are celebrating newfound freedom from the classroom. Some have decided to teach somewhere else.
The district is losing 29 teachers, 14 of whom have been in the district for more than 20 years. Those leaving include:
One of those retiring is Paula Carter, who taught English and was a counselor at the high school. She has taught for 47 years, with 44 of those at Carthage ISD, her hometown.
“I have always wanted to be in education. Period. I loved what I did for 47 years. What a blessing,” Carter said.
She began teaching Junior English, and later went to Senior English, then she moved to counselling. Carter said she stayed in Carthage because it was her home and because of the people with whom she worked.
“I always felt appreciated at CHS and made to feel that I was doing a good job. As corny as it sounds, I loved my students and they seemed to like me back. Not a bad deal,” she said.
Carter liked watching students finally get it.
“As a teacher, I loved watching students engaging in discussions and having that ‘Ahah!’ moment when they caught on to something that I was trying to teach,” she said. “I always missed being a classroom teacher even when I went to the counselors’ office. I loved teaching, but grading essays was never fun. I have written responses on papers in the car, at athletic events, at home — everywhere.”
Carter said counseling “is a whole different side of education.”
“So many students deal with so much,” she said. “The counselor is that person who can make the day go better sometimes. High school counselors do a lot of just being there and truly listening to the kids.
“CHS counselors follow a class for four years,” she said. “Doing so gives the students and the counselor the opportunity to develop a real relationship. Smiles and hugs go a long way.”
Carter looks forward to making plans without noticing what part of the school year she is in.
“I want to make plans in retirement that don’t revolve around a school calendar,” she said. “Since I was six years old, my whole life has been determined by school. I want to participate in church activities and go places at 10 in the morning on a Tuesday. We are going to travel, but we haven’t gone yet. Maybe in the fall when everyone else in in school.”
Bud Worley sponsored the Technology Student Association at Carthage High School for all 37 of his teaching years and taught computer technology-related courses. Although he will be retired, he is working for SPL Inc.
Worley said that he loved being a Carthage Bulldog and that the district always took care of him.
“I taught woodworking, metalworking, computer applications, animation and robotics,” Worley said.
Two of his favorite parts of being at Carthage High School were being with the students and sponsoring the many trips taken to different parts of the United States, he said.
Tammy Alexander, who taught English, served as test coordinator and then went back to teaching AP English, is retiring. She has taught for 40 years, with 24 of them in Carthage.
“It was a challenge to get back in the groove, especially not having taught AP English ever,” Alexander said. “I will miss the students I got close to and the staff at the high school. I looked forward to seeing my co-workers every day. We actually had fun together (and leaned) on one another for support. It is a close-knit group there, no matter how often the faces change.”
Alexander hopes to spend more time as an active grandmother.
“I plan to do all the grandma activities I’ve been missing and visit extended family more often,” she said. “Eventually I will do something part-time if I get a little restless. Right now, I can’t imagine getting bored!”
Alice Claiborne, who taught social studies and coached, has 30 years of teaching experience — with 29 of those at Carthage. She is moving to Corsicana to be near family. When asked if she will miss her time at Carthage ISD, she pointed to a recent example: “A co-worker asked for my coaching attire, all my red and white… I thought for a minute and replied, ‘I will always be a Bulldog, so not going to happen.’”
“Carthage will always be my home,” she said. “I’m a graduate, my children were educated in Carthage, I love my hometown. I bleed red and white.”
Mary Williams taught special education and coached at the junior high for all her 39 years of teaching. She is retiring.
“My teaching career began in the fall of 1981 at CJHS,” Williams said. “During those years, I taught English, reading, math, crafts and music. I was also the self-contained teacher and coached.
“I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and will miss seeing students learn as well as daily visiting with all of the peers/friends I have learned to love and appreciate,” she said.
She and her husband plan to visit children and grandchildren.
“My husband, John Ben, and I have two children,” she said. “My son, Ben, lives in Florida and works at Disney World. Now that I am retired, I plan to visit at other times of the year rather than just peak season. My daughter, Frances, lives in California with my son-in-law and one-year-old granddaughter. It will be nice to visit them more often as well.”
Marsha Barden, who has taught 29 of her 35 years at Libby, is now retiring. Barden taught multiple classes during her years.
“I have taught it all!” she said. “I taught third-grade, self-contained classes when I began teaching at Libby. When we began team-teaching, I taught math for many years,” she said.
Then Libby Elementary was completely re-built, and Barden changed classes again, teaching reading, language arts and social studies.
“During my last two years at Libby, I was thrilled to have a self-contained classroom again,” Barden said. “I had part of the Gifted and Talented students, and I taught all subjects. I loved having my kids all day, and the students loved it too. We got much accomplished.”
Her favorite part of teaching “is seeing my students enjoy learning and having a good time in class,” Barden said.
“My favorite part of my campus was the people with which I worked,” she said. “The teachers and staff all work well together, but we could always have a good time together too. Our teachers always supported each other, and I truly believe we have the hardest working staff.”
Since her retirement in May, Barden said that she doesn’t really have a plan, but she looks forward to the next adventure. She wants to spend as much time with her family as possible, especially her grandchildren.
“We love to travel, and I want to go to as many new places as possible,” she said. “Spending lots of time with friends is important to me. I have a lot of projects that I have put off for 35 years that I will try to work on.”
She also wants to devote some time to writing and testing her creativity.
Debbie LaGrone has taught 42 of her 46 years at Carthage. She is also retiring.
LaGrone taught kindergarten, first grade and first-grade reading intervention. She said she always enjoyed her colleagues and her students.
“Teaching struggling readers and getting to be with my colleagues is what I enjoyed the most,” LaGrone said. “I now plan to spend time with family and travel,”
Shari Shull taught 24 of her 25 years teaching at Carthage Primary. Shull taught only two grades: kindergarten and first grade.
“I will miss seeing children learn and grow and my colleagues who have become very close friends,” she said.
Shull also plans to travel.
“My future plans include travel, enjoying my children and grandchildren, and relocating to Longview,” Shull said.
Other Carthage ISD teachers not returning to the district this year are:
- Matthew Glass who has taught for 10 years, all at Carthage. He is leaving for another job;
- Joanna Huckabee, who taught the CHS-TV production class for the last eight years. She is leaving for another profession;
- Angie Musgrove, who has been a high school counselor and worked for Carthage for 20 out of her 27 school years. She is going to Panola College to be the new Dual Enrollment Coordinator;
- Chris Smith, who taught at Carthage High School eight of his 16 years of teaching. He will teach and coach at Southlake ISD;
- Leven Barker, who was coaching high school volleyball. He is in his 31st year of teaching and is going to teach at Tatum ISD;
- Brandon Hargers, a PACE Academy teacher and coach who taught at Carthage for eight of his 15 years teaching. He is going to another district;
- Annette Johnson, who taught journalism and was the district’s technology director. She has spent 14 of her 22 years teaching in Carthage. Johnson is going to work at Pine Tree ISD.
- Michelle Cocklin, who taught at the junior high for 10 of her 15 total years teaching. She is moving to another district;
- Glenn Kocurek, who taught for 17 of his 28 years teaching at Carthage. He is retiring;
- Lauren Nolen, who resigned last spring;
- Bryan Stacy, who has been teaching social studies at the junior high. He has taught 28 of his 32 years teaching at Carthage Junior High School. He is retiring but will work part-time at First State Bank;
- Jennifer Zett, who has taught all 20 years of her career at the junior high. She resigned.
- Denise Beste, who taught 14 of her 28 years in Carthage. She is retiring;
- Becky Davis, who has taught 18 of her 30 years at Libby Elementary School. She is retiring;
- Phyllis Goodwin, who taught 11 of her 23 years at Libby Elementary School and resigned;
- Kaylynn McKnight, who taught 38 of her 39 years teaching at Libby Elementary School. She is retiring;
- Pam Morton, a Libby counselor, spent 25 of 38 years at Carthage. She is retiring;
- Janet Jennings, who taught 19 of her 27 years teaching at Carthage. She is moving to another district;
- Misty Porter, who has spent all of her 10 years teaching at Baker Koonce Intermediate School. She is leaving the profession for private business;
- Dina Scarber, who has spent 8 of her 26 years teaching at Baker Koonce Intermediate School. She is retiring; and
- Ellen Day, who has taught 26 of her 27 years in Carthage. She is retiring.