The 31 years in education were wonderful years. I have always believed they were planned for me by God. After all it was education that I would never enter as a profession. My Senior English High School teacher required an essay entitled, “The Profession I would never enter.” That was an easy subject for me.
My essay was entitle, “I Would Never be a Teacher.” I was very sincere. I did some research and named the negative things I felt about teaching. The first strike against being a teacher was low salaries. That was a given because low they were unless you were willing to leave Mississippi and that I was not. I was determined that Mississippi would always be home to me.
Another negative thing I listed was lack of parental support. I am sorry to say I found this to be true. I discovered that a great percentage of parents do not have a clue of what goes on in schools where their child’s education is concerned. I researched my senior essay well and was determined never to be a teacher.
I entered college at Wood Junior College, a private Methodist College and began working on a BA Degree with the intention of doing my graduate work in a Methodist Theological School and become a Methodist Minister. I transferred to Ole Miss the second semester of the sophomore year because Wood College did not offer the courses I wanted to take.
Because I could not get every course I wanted at Ole Miss that semester my advisor recommended that I take a course called, “Introduction to Education.” I actually did not want to take the course but it seemed I had no other choice. I really enjoyed the course. It was great.
At the close of that semester I changed my major to education. I received a BSE Degree with a major in English, History and Political Science. I did my student teaching at Greenwood Junior High School and it was a wonderful experience. At this point I was hooked on education. I was interested in working with young people and concluded that I could work with more young people in one year of teaching than I could in ten years in churches.
While I was offered a contract at Greenwood teaching fourth grade social studies and being responsible for the hall bulletin board I could not imagine myself teaching fourth grade and surely could not see myself doing the hall bulletin board.
I saw an ad in the Commercial Appeal for an 11th grade English Teacher at Horn Lake High School. I had no idea where Horn Lake was but on my way to Memphis to visit a patient I saw a sign pointing to Horn Lake off I-55.
Off I went. The school building was being prepared for the next session. I saw a carpenter and asked him where I might find the principal. He said, “I am the principal.” I asked him about the job and for whatever reason I do not know he took me to the book room and showed me the books used in Junior English. He took my name and number and said he would be in contact. I had very little hope in getting the job but before the day was over the principal called and the job was mine.
I loved classroom teaching. In two years I was offered the counselor’s job and off to Ole Miss Graduate School I went. I took the courses required for counseling and soon obtained a Masters in Education. I was enjoying being a counselor. One night while having dinner at home the phone rang and the President of the county school board said they had just elected me principal at Southaven Elementary (Grades 1-8).
I said “Thank you sir,” but knew I did not know how to be principal.
Back to Ole Miss I went and began working on another graduate degree in School Administration. After two years I became principal of Southaven High School and then I was appointed area superintendent of Southaven Schools which consisted of two elementary schools, the high school and vocational school. In 1978 I became assistant superintendent of DeSoto County Schools and remained in that position until I retired in 1991. I retired after 31 years in education and do not regret a day I spent in education.
My favorite job was definitely classroom teaching. I stayed in administration which I did like because of the salary and the necessity to house and feed a family. I did miss the daily contact with students in a teaching/learning environment.
The ability to retire early as far as age was concerned allowed me to go back into the pulpit of the United Methodist Church. In June 2014 I will have spent 23 years as a pastor and give thanks to God for allowing me to do so.
To return to Calhoun County and serve as a member and President of the Calhoun County School Board is more than I ever dreamed of. If I could do it over would I pursue education as a career? You bet I would.
Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and a United Methodist minister. He is Pastor of Shady Grove UM Church in Calhoun County and is President of the Calhoun County School Board Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write at P.O. Box 337, Bruce, MS 38915.