With more than 180 years of combined teaching experience in Brown County Schools, six educators are saying goodbye to the school corporation when they retire this week.
In addition to the four featured below, Van Buren Elementary School paraprofessional Julie Eddins will retire after 21 years here, and Brown County High School vocational education teacher Chris Todd will retire after inspiring young men and women interested in building trades for 34 years.
Todd could not be reached for an interview by deadline, but look for a story about the future of the building trades program in an upcoming issue.
After 33 years as a teacher, Peggy Thompson will retire to take another seat in the classroom: Proud grandparent.
“I started to regret the fact that my grandkids are growing up, and I can’t go to their grandparents parties and the presentations and their music concerts,” she said.
“We decided if we’re going to do that, we better start doing it, because they’re going to be grown before we know it,” Thompson said.
She and her husband, Michael, have nine grandchildren scattered around Indiana and Texas, and the couple also look forward to being able to cheer them on at baseball games this summer.
Still, Thompson said she will miss her students. “They are so sweet at this age,” she said.
She taught kindergarten, third and fourth grade at the former Nashville Elementary School. When that school closed in 2013 to become Brown County Intermediate School, Thompson became the Title I teacher at Van Buren.
She works with students in kindergarten to fourth grade, helping them achieve grade-level goals in core subjects.
Some of her students are second-generation students — she taught their parents in kindergarten.
“Some of the grandparents of the children, I had as parents when their children were going through kindergarten.”
“For one thing, you can see a lot of family resemblances. Kids seem to like the same things and a lot of times they look a lot alike. It’s really fun,” she said.
Her favorite memories include designing costumes for the elementary opera productions. “The kids were so proud of themselves,” she said. “I just got a kick out of seeing them. It was just like my heart swelled with pride when I saw those kids. They were just so cute.”
Another memory she will take with her is teaching her fourth-graders how to knit. One class knitted a blanket to celebrate Nashville’s centennial in 1972.
“A lot of the kids will come up to me now as grownups and say, ‘I love that you taught me to knit.’ Some of them actually knit things for other people like scarves, baby blankets, you name it,” she said.
Looking back over her career at Brown County Schools, Thompson thinks of success.
“Brown County Schools have been doing a good job for a long time. I think people forget that sometimes,” she said.
That’s one reason she and Michael moved back to raise their children. She is a Brown County alumna herself, graduating from Brown County High School in 1969.
“I felt like I got a good education here, and I wanted my kids to be in that small, close-knit community when they grew up,” she said.
Her advice to a new teacher? Find an older teacher to talk to.
“There’s always somebody that will help them,” she said. “Teachers are great at borrowing great ideas from other teachers.”