Retirees from Johnson County Schools receive plaques in honor of their combined 237 years of service during the Thursday, July 8 School Board meeting. Pictured (L-R): Dorris Martin, Jean McEwen, Linda Morefield, Dottie Sue Phipps, Clarissa Schmal, Sherree Schmees, Stephanie Wills, and David “Smiley” Wilson. Photo by Tina Lipford.
By Meg Dickens
The Johnson County School Board celebrated the hard work and perseverance of employees retiring from their positions. The group, consisting of 12 individuals, accumulatively holds over 237 years of service to the Johnson County school system. The individuals dedicated years of their lives to taking care of and bettering young minds. Eight of the twelve were present to receive plaques in their honor.
The following employees will be retiring: Jimmy Hamby from the JCHS vocational school, five years; Pam Hodge from Mountain City Elementary (MCE), 27 years; Dorris Martin from school nutrition at JCHS, 12 years; Jean McEwen from school nutrition at JCHS, 16 years; Linda Morefield from Roan Creek Elementary (RCE), 30 years; Dottie Sue Phipps from JCMS, 30 years; Clarissa Schmal from JCHS, eight years; Sherree Schmees, behavioral specialist, 13 years; Lisa Sentell from RCE, 29 years; Rosalee Thomas of Central Office, 29 years; Stephanie Wills from Doe Valley Elementary, 30 years; David “Smiley” Wilson of the JCHS vocational school, 11 years. These retirees are a mixture of different types of teachers, assistants, and nutrition workers.
While applauding these former employees, there is also something else to consider: supply and demand in education. During Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s visit, school officials mentioned how difficult staffing could be. Schwinn’s allowance for flexible scheduling reportedly was a big help in organizing the learning loss camp held at Mountain City Elementary.
That type of schedule seems to work well in short-term situations like the camp but would most likely not be stable in the long term. Recent studies from the United Federation of Teachers shows that elementary students who have the same teacher consecutively for two years, known as looping, often score higher in end-of-year testing. Studies such as the Association for Education Finance and Policy’s 2018 “The Consequences Of Leaving School Early: The Effects Of Within-Year And End-Of-Year Teacher Turnover” show signs of negative learning impact on children who change teachers during the school year. Both studies seem to focus on stability within the situation.
The state of Tennessee seems to recognize the staffing struggle as well. One of the newest TSBA (Tennessee School Board Association) recommended changes revolves around hiring based on availability. TSBA Policy 5.106, updated through state legislation, allows schools to hire those with a teaching permit if a licensed teacher is not available. This particular policy is just on its first reading for the Johnson County School Board, so its approval or denial by local authorities will be during the August meeting at the earliest.