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Catherine Pillow said she always knew she would be working with children.
For the past 31 years she has been teaching in the Grant County Schools District, including Corinth Elementary and Mason-Corinth Elementary.
Now, she is retiring after 33 total years in education.
“I think I gave it everything I had everyday,” she said. “I will take away from that the children worked hard and they learned from me.”
Pillow said she found her calling through her parents, Ruth and Edwin Hall.
“I read all of the time as a child and my parents stressed the importance of education and how it was important to them that their children get an education,” she said.
Pillow graduated from Pendleton County High School and went on to get her education degrees at Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky.
She began her teaching career in Harlan County and stayed there for two years before moving to Lexington, where she found an opening at Corinth Elementary.
Pillow has taught many grades during her tenure as a teacher, but was always fond of teaching first graders.
“They start reading and they get excited about learning and they want you to know they are learning,” she said.
Over the years, Pillow has taught many students, including school secretary Shannon Burk and the children of Burk and many other parents in the area.
“I taught Shannon when she was in the fourth grade,” Pillow said. “I have had both her children and now her niece.”
With the ability to teach children of former students, Pillow said it gives her a sense of a community.
“It shows that people around here stay here and I have gotten to see them grow up and become responsible adults, getting the ability to work with them,” she said.
In September 2010, Pillow was nominated and won 2010 Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year Award. Curtis McAllister, a former student of Pillows, nominated her.
“My memory of Mrs. Pillow, from my years as a student at MCE, is that she was always warm, caring, and happy, and in turn made school a happy place for her students,” McAllister said in a press release on the Grant County Schools website. “My wife, Terin, feels the same way. Mrs. Pillow was Terin’s first grade teacher, and we were thrilled when we learned that our daughter, Kailyn, would be privileged to have this same experience in first grade. Kailyn is having a wonderful year. We wanted to find a way to thank and honor Mrs. Pillow before she retired.”
With retirement now here, Pillow plans on taking a break from teaching.
“My plan is to relax and travel with my husband,” she said. “I will also garden and read plenty of books.”
After completing 31 years of education in Grant County, Pillow said if she is leaving a legacy, it is that the children are the main focus of education.
“If you put them first,” she said. “Then everything else will fall in place.”