I was a bit leery about agreeing to be part of this project. I really didn’t know where to start as I reflected upon my life of seventy years. I am currently in the process of retiring after forty-three years of teaching.
I started out in Middle School in Temple Texas as a Health &Physical Education and teacher and a Coach for five years. After returning back home, I was immediately employed as an elementary school teacher. There I had to teach a very special population of children none that were only known to me through my course of study. As the aide marched the children to my classroom, which was a trailer outside, I noticed that as the children got closer my heart began to beat faster and faster because some of them were deformed and others had a myriad of issues. I began to cry because I wasn’t sure of what I was expected to do. Through the grace of God, these children opened my eyes and prepared me for what God wanted me to do. I taught at this particular school for eight years teaching both populations of students enjoying every minute of it.
My second marriage brought me to Fort Bragg. Once again, I was immediately hired as a teacher. One of the skills I had was in the area of adaptive physical education which turned out to be a blessing for me. The school I worked at had a hard population of exceptional children with parents advocating to have their children mainstreamed into the regular classroom. Again these children taught me to love my job and love them. In working with one of the students who were severely disabled I got to know the family. As I worked with him I would call him my “Pumpkin Tootie” and he would give me the biggest smile. The family changed duty stations but they kept in touch with me as to how he was going. I was excited to receive a letter from the family and I thought they were sending me a picture of my boy but it was the program from his funeral because he had passed. I was destroyed and happy at the same time because this baby suffered. This was the first time a child I was working with had passed. I was questioning if I could continue to work with children with disabilities. As God would have it, I was to work with these children for over 20 more years. As changes were being made on the base including my school being closed. I was sent to a middle school where my career has thus come full circle. I started at a middle school and will soon be retiring soon from a middle school.
I have learned many lessons as a professional educator all centered on serving and loving children. I have fond memories and will miss them all for this is me, Dr. Joan L. McKinney.