By Angie Mayes
Mt. Juliet News Correspondent
Thirty-seven Wilson County Schools employees who plan to retire were honored with a reception and presentation last Monday night prior to the Wilson County Board of Education meeting.
Among them was Esther Hockett, who worked for the district for 58 years and will retire at the end of the school year as a library media specialist at Mt. Juliet High School.
From 1963-69, Hockett was a teacher and librarian and a guidance counselor at Wilson County High School. At the time, she taught civics, 10th-grade English, health to girls, science, world history and government to seniors.
She said when she retires, she plans to “read, write, complete Bible studies, missionary projects, love and take care of my family, visit loved ones and see more of the world.”
She plans to continue to live in Mt. Juliet.
Hockett said she decided to retire when she began “receiving answers to prayers. I have been praying to God for several years, and it’s time. Fifty years has seemed just like a very few days on this beautiful journey. Knowing that, I have been truly blessed and loved down through the years.”
She said she “will miss all of our current darling teachers, administrators, staff members and those who are not here, as well. Many of our current teachers are former students. I am so thankful to see them doing an excellent job. It has been a joy to work with each. God truly blesses.”
David Wright retired after 50 years as a bus driver. He was named state bus driver of the Year in 2017. Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said, “When it comes to Lebanon High School, he is always willing to drive.”
Transportation director Jerry Barlow said, “[David Wright’s] blood does run blue.”
David Wright did retire in November due to health conditions, he said.
“I was sick and had to retire,” he said. “I wasn’t ready to give up, but I had to.”
Linda Highers and Patti Smith also plan to retire. Highers said she retired in December and was with the system for 31-and-a-half years.
“I was hired to teach third grade, but then taught kindergarten to third grade,” said Highers, who taught at Watertown Elementary School. “I loved teaching and was a math teacher, as well as an art teacher.”
Smith also taught at Watertown Elementary School and said she has worked for the school system for 30 years. She was hired as a fifth-grade teacher, but then taught third through sixth grades. Smith taught language, reading and social studies.
Janet Spruill and Cindy Willis also plan to retire.
Spruill, who taught at Southside Elementary School, will retire after 41-and-a-half years. She taught first grade and said she will miss teaching.
“I enjoy working with the children,” she said.
Willis, who is a librarian at Lakeview Elementary School, will retire after 29 years with the school system. Twenty of those years were at Lakeview, she said.
“I will miss the kids, but I won’t set my alarm [after she retires],” Willis said. “I will also go at a slower pace.”
Bus driver Charles Lanius plans to retire after 12 years. He said he loved working as a driver.
Math and STEM teacher David Haines plans to retire after 19 years with the school system as 24 years as a teacher. He taught at Mt. Juliet High School.
“I will miss the kids,” he said, echoing many of his fellow retirees.
Others who plan to retire this year are Robert Agee, Tony Batey, Margie Blair, Charles Bowman, Steven Carter, Anita Christian, Cindy Climer, Barbara Coffee, Walter Crawley, Susan Davis, Kelly Eagar, Violet Elliots, Tracy Fialkowski, Samuel Figgins, Kathy Gallager, Cynthia Givens-Harris, Rebecca Ann Laveck, Bridgete Lewis, Barbara Marks, Debra Martin, Robin Morthel, Ann Nored,, Joan Priebel, Donna Robertson, Lorii Sharp, Rick Sink, Linda Gayle Smith, Mary Wheeler and Jerry Williams.