Article Published: Jan. 10 | Modified: Jan. 10
Regardless which generation of educators you might ask, teaching is a not a financially rewarding profession.
Then again, very few educators embark on such an endeavor for the money.
For most educators, the rewarding aspect of teaching comes elsewhere.
Unless you are a tenured professor at an established university, there is likely a completely different motivation for having your classroom in order before that 8 a.m. bell.
Every day, teachers deal with unruly students, unappeasable parents and a precariously rigorous curriculum for the progress they see in their pupils from the beginning of the school year until the last day in June.
Recently, two retired educators at Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation shared their fond memories of teaching and why they endured the timeless challenges of shaping young minds.
Glenbridge is honoring nine teachers in residence at the facility during a special reception at 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16.
Jimmie Mast spent most of her life in the Bethel community. Her formative years were spent at a desk at the small schoolhouse. After graduating from Appalachian State University, she returned to her quiet corner of the world to teach at the very school at which she fell in love with education.
“I love children,” Mast said. “My first day as a teacher, I knew I had selected the right profession. It was just a good feeling when I stepped into the classroom.”
For 29 years, Mast taught every subject imaginable at the rural Watauga County schoolhouse. Over the years, she developed a taste for history and English.
Mast, or “Ms. Jimmie,” as her students affectionately called her, developed deep connections with the generations of students that passed through her classroom.
“You occasionally had students that had parents who didn’t want to cooperate,” Mast said. “That was the hardest part.”
With the exception of first grade, Mast taught at every grade in her three decades of service.
“Third-grade students still want to please you, but sixth-grade students act as if they almost want to dare you,” she said.
When asked what advice she would pass on to rising generations, her caveat was simple and clear.
“If you like children, you will be a good teacher,” Mast said. “But if you don’t, well, you won’t.”
Betty Austin Hunter, another Watauga County resident, taught at both the high school and university levels.
Hunter completed her undergraduate and master’s work at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, which was known as the Women’s College of UNC at that time.
Teaching runs in Hunter’s family. Her mother taught, and she can reel off the names of several aunts who taught, as well.
With the passing of school years, Hunter eventually went on to teach retail and interior design at Arizona State University, or the “other ASU,” as she refers to it.
As for what she enjoyed most about teaching, Hunter said it depends on each person’s definition of “enjoyment.”
“Teaching is a highly respected position that one might be able to fulfill a need and contributions to society, as well as a community,” she said. “The challenge in teaching is to work toward a set of goals that are set up in the very beginning of a teacher’s career, and the attempt should be to increase a student’s intellect and advancement toward those goals.”
Hunter also said that today’s generation of teachers is facing a new set of challenges that are more closely related to administration oversight and regulations that can be overbearing at times.
“I see a great deal of teacher evaluations, which is very difficult to do on the scene,” Hunter said. “These evaluations should be done over a period time and not just one day, so you can see the overall productivity of students.”
In addition to Hunter and Mast, seven other educators in residence will be recognized at the reception.
Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation is located at 211 Milton Brown Heirs Road in Boone. For more information, call (828) 264-6720.