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Retired Teachers Give Back

Written by: Crystel Ellison

Retired teachers return to the classroom at Houston School District (HSD) and make a big impact.

Whether subbing for the day, filling in for an extended period of time or tutoring special populations, every school at HSD benefits from these much needed services retired teachers provide.

Anita Ellison, who retired in May 2015, after 31 years at HSD working with elementary and secondary students, returned just seven months later to teach the state-tested course, Biology 1, at Houston High School (HHS).

“The Houston School District and its students and staff have been a major part of my life for many years and will always be important to me. When they needed me to return and teach for a semester, I could not refuse the opportunity to help,” Ellison said.

Sandra Kay Gibson, a retired teacher of 32 years who worked for both the Tupelo and Houston school districts, is serving as a tutor at HHS, helping students with English grammar, writing skills, comprehension and test-taking skills.

“I have always had a desire to help anyone in need, especially students. Most of the students I tutor just need one on one instruction to get back on track. They need encouragement and self-confidence to help them overcome their fear of failure,” Gibson said. “I strive to help them become confident and successful in learning.”

Cara Chism, retired social studies teacher of 29 years, volunteers both at Houston Upper Elementary and HHS. Her roles include tutor and proctor for state tests.

“Teaching is my passion and volunteering offers the opportunity to do what I really enjoy with the goal of helping every student I work with,” Chism said.

Chism came back to instill a love for reading and learning and encourage students to pursue their dreams.

“I missed the interaction with students…the smiles, hugs and ‘Aha!’ moments of my third graders…the ‘Light Bulb!’ expression of my juniors,” Chism said. “After all, these students are the future, and I really want them to enjoy the ride rather than fear change.”

Dorajean Sanderson, who taught elementary and home economics and retired after 26 years to take care of her parents, later returned to education, subbing on a regular basis for HSD.

“I was used to working and able to use my degree in a way that is helpful to others,” Sanderson said.

While retired teachers give much, they also get much in return.

“I enjoy being able to work with young people and keep my mental facilities going. I also enjoy the social aspect of being with teachers,” Sanderson said.

Gibson says her biggest blessing has been the progress and success of her students.

“It’s so rewarding to hear [the students] say, ‘Now I understand!’ How blessed I am to later see these students become happy and successful in the classroom,” Gibson said.

Ellison, who continued to help with the Houston Solar Race Team following her retirement, acknowledges the blessings she has received in returning to HSD.

“The biggest blessing I have received from coming back is the opportunity to use my God-given gifts that were developed over many years of experience to meet a need in my community. It was a blessing to be a part of the lives of another group of students, many of which whose parents I taught as well,” Ellison said.

These are just a few of the retired teachers who have returned to HSD to devote their time and talent to serving students once again. The staff at HSD appreciates the service of all who have come back to fill a void.

“I appreciate the caring they have for our students. They also bring back wisdom and experience,” John Ellison, HUES principal said. “They are able to give students special attention one on one and in small groups that we don’t have the resources on staff to do.”

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