Allen Teacher Retires After Nearly 50 Years in Education

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Allen High School teacher Carole Jernigan is finally saying goodbye after spending nearly 50 years in a classroom. (Published Friday, Jun 6, 2014)

    An Allen High School teacher is finally saying goodbye after spending nearly 50 years in a classroom.

    Carole Jernigan has been a teacher for 46 years, most of that at Allen High School.

    She started her career teaching women how to be good wives and cooks; now she's teaching them how to be educators and businesswomen.

    How long is 46 years for a teacher? Some of Mrs. Jernigan's students started dating in her class, then got married later on in life and had kids that she then taught in high school.

    Two of her former students are now fellow teachers at Allen High School. Current students said they want to become teachers because of her, calling her an "inspiration."

    Two-thirds of Carole Jernigan's life has been inside of a classroom. She got older and wiser over the years, her hair — as evidenced by her annual yearbook photos — got smaller.

    "We had a saying in the south, the higher the hair the closer to heaven," she said with a laugh, as she looked through a giant memory book she assembled this year.

    Jernigan started teaching in Missouri back in 1967. She taught cooking, cleaning and sewing.

    "It was the women stayed at home, the men took care of working and the family. And that has definitely changed," she said. "And I'm proud of that. That's great to see."

    For the past 29 years, she's called Allen High School home.

    "Being a teacher has kept me young. That’s the neat thing about teaching," she said. "You’re connected to the kids, they keep you current, they keep you up on things. There’s a connection there."

    Along the way, she stopped riding motorcycles, started gardening, and her memory book kept getting bigger.

    "People say why have you taught so long? The reason is I love the kids," she said. "They’re energetic, they’re creative, they just want to absorb information."

    She now teaches teens who want to grow up to become teachers.

    "It's really showed me that it can be enjoyable, and people really do love teaching. It pushed me to want to be like her and be able to teach kids," said 15-year-old sophomore Jena Stratton, part of Mrs. Jernigan's Education in Training class.

    When the classroom lights go out for the last time Friday, Jernigan said she'll let out a bittersweet smile.

    "I'm relieved in some ways, because after 46 years in a classroom, I'm a bit tired. But I know that it'll be even harder at the beginning of next year, when I don't have to report to school," she said.