High School - Tupelo
College and degree - Delta State, Bachelor of Science in Education
Graduate School and degree - Mississippi College, Master of Combined Science - Biology, Chemistry
I am in my 39th year of teaching at the time of this writing. It seems like only yesterday that I began my career. That works out to be approximately 4,100 students that have turned in tests to me to be graded. Now, multiply that by and average of 20 tests a year per student, and one arrives at an astounding 168,100 test papers!
So, I began my career as a teacher in 1976 at Independence Attendance Center after graduating from Delta State University with a BSE in Biology, Chemistry and Education. This was in January, and my hiring at Independence was to fill a position that was supported by an education grant given to the school. The grant was not renewed the next year (no indication of my teaching skills I assure you), so off I went to Chamberlain-Hunt Academy, a boarding school in Port Gibson, MS, owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church. At CHA I developed my teaching style, and morphed into a mature teacher. I stayed at CHA for 6 years, and while there, I worked on my Master's degree at Mississippi College, just up the Natchez Trace 45 or so miles. After receiving my Masters Degree in Biology and Chemistry, it wasn’t long until I had landed a position at the prestigious Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson, MS. While at Jackson Prep, I realized how much I didn’t know about chemistry. I put in many long hours preparing for classes. Five years later, I left to pursue a career in teaching overseas, a folly that turned out to be a huge mistake. But every cloud has a silver (Ag – from the Latin word for silver, argentum) lining. This mistake is what brought me to DeSoto County, Mississippi, where I worked initially for Wendell Davis at OBHS and remained there for 15 years. When I learned about the DeSoto Central Schools and the new high school that was about to open, I decided that this would be a challenge that few science teachers would ever get a chance to embrace. Besides, it should be obvious by now, that I like to try new places and different environments. The transfer added about 5 or 6 miles to my driving distance each day, but it has been well worth the mileage. When I and about 30 other teachers moved into our brand new school building almost 10 years ago now, we found new student and teacher desks and a bunch of empty closets and cabinets. The emptiest of all closets were the chemistry and physics storerooms. The biology teachers had already taught a year of biology at the middle school, before DCHS opened up, so those teachers had a few things to move over. But, there had never been chemistry and physics classes. I was beginning to wonder if the challenge that I wanted to embrace was a bit too challenging. Immediately, I began wandering around the school grounds to pick up building scraps that might be used as science equipment. So, here it is, a neat piece of trivia. The first piece of chemistry/physics equipment that went into the chemistry store room was an empty, used Sonic cup that was lying in the yard. With it, I picked up some builder’s sand and added some wire, scrap metal and a few other pieces of junk to my horde. As luck would have it, the maintenance crew came along later, and upon seeing my little pile of stuff in the chemistry store room, thought that it was a pile of junk left behind by the builders. They promptly picked up and discarded the entire inventory of the physical science department with the exception of the sonic cup. I had evidently moved the cup to my classroom. I think it’s still there in a cabinet and there are those that would not be surprised at this fact. Well, fortunately, there were some people who shared in my vision of what the Physical Science Department at DC should be, and we were soon up and running as a full-fledged science machine. Some of those people include the Homer Skelton Fund for DeSoto County Schools (This fund paid for the bulk of our initial science equipment. I am forever indebted to these people.), The DeSoto County Foundation for Excellence In Education, several parents and a host of doctors, dentists and veterinarians. This latter group of professional scientists donated money for us to have computers at all of our work stations. With all of this help from the community, it should not surprise anyone that we have brought our Physical Science Department to the level where it ranks within the top 5 science departments in the state (This is purely my speculation, of course, but I’m familiar with many science departments across the state.)
Now, I find my self at LHS and am really glad to be here. I am taking teaching Chemistry I, Physics, AP Chemistry this year. Robin Beavers has done a wonderful job at building the chemistry and physics program. I feel privileged to have followed such a great teacher.
I have also sponsored several clubs and organizations in my career. Among them are the Student Council, the National Honor Society, an outing club (canoeing, camping, etc.), class sponsor (at every school), and last but certainly not least, the Explorer’s Club. The Explorer’s Club came into existence while I was at OBHS and continues today at DC. This club is dedicated to showing students the world, and that’s exactly what it has done. We have been to almost every country in Western Europe over a period of approximately 25 years. The club is open to all students and parents who are well behaved, and who are interested in learning. Yes, I did say well behaved parents.
After so many years of teaching, one would surely have to consider an impending retirement. I don't know when for sure this will be. I think, however, it might be on the first day of school one year, in the fall (you know the fall, the first day of August), when I'm not excited that school is starting back, or the day my doctor says my hand is about to fall off from grading too many test papers.
Oh, and by the way, I have written a book called The Handler, a mystery for young adults. It's available at Amazon, B and N, and most other book venues. ISBN: 978 1 63063 049 2 and my pen name is J. Adams.
So, that’s my story. It has been an extraordinary career that I have made for myself, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my journey. Thanks for your time.