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Three Grant County teachers are saying goodbye ...

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By Paige Taylor

Harrison prepared generations
Linda Harrison is retiring from Dry Ridge Elementary after 33 years of teaching. Harrison has worked with children from kindergarten through grade 5 and is a graduate of EKU, NKU and Williamstown High School.

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Teaching was a natural choice for Harrison because her mother, uncle and four aunts were involved in education, inspiring her to be a teacher.

 “This is a large part of who I am, and it’s tough to give it up, but it’s that time,” Harrison said. “I will miss their (the students) bright, shining faces, their individual personalities and the funny things that they say and do. They are so witty and smart and I don’t think people realize that until they really get to know them.”

Harrison shares that some of her favorite moments about teaching are the projects that her students make each year.

“At the end of the science unit they do a big project and they bring it to school and get to present it to the class. This year they did ecosystems and they did a fantastic job and they had their hands in every part of the projects. They enjoyed talking about it and showing it to everyone and they learned so much,” Harrison said.

She has also enjoyed the field trips that she goes on with her students and is astounded when they demonstrate their knowledge.

“This year we went to the planetarium and when the people at the place that we go asked the children questions, they actually already knew a lot about it. I really like to see how they respond and they show what they’ve learned.”

Harrison looks back on her time with Dry Ridge Elementary and the friends that she’s made while teaching.

“I feel like I have been really lucky to be here to meet the people that I taught with,” she said. “The people I started with were the models for the teacher I became. I learned so much about technology and I have had the best last few years because of the people I work with and the part they played in my time here. They have been the best partners that I work with, and I’ve made so many friends.”

She worked closely with fellow third grade teacher, Mary Catherine Kendall, at Dry Ridge Elementary and Kendall says that Harrison will be missed.

“Linda and I worked really closely for the last two years and she really cared about her students and she did all she could to make sure they got the best education that they could. She was a mentor to me and has taught me a lot and we’ll all miss her sense of humor and her passion for teaching and working with the kids,” Kendall said.

Harrison is proud that she has taught generations of families in Grant County.

“I have children of children that I have taught. The children that I have now, I have taught their parents and there have been a couple times where I taught both of their parents in the same class, so that has been neat to see everyone come back into the classroom,” Harrison said.

Instead of teaching about how to write Open Response’s, Harrison will spend time with family.

“I’ve got some projects at home, like remodeling in my house, I would like to substitute and do things completely different than teaching,” Harrison said.

Olliges will miss doing ‘fun things’
Judy Olliges will be trading in rulers and crayons for stirrups and saddles. Olliges, an avid horseback rider and teacher at Crittenden Mt. Zion Elementary, is retiring after almost 28 years.

Olliges earned her degrees from Cumberland College and Union College and graduated from Harlan High School. Olliges has been teaching with CMZ for 10 years.

 “I’ve been teaching for 27 and a half years, and if I had it to do over, I would still choose the same career because it’s been awesome and very rewarding,” Olliges said.

Olliges spent her last year teaching kindergartners but she has also spent time with other grade levels.

“I have taught first grade for many years and I’ve also taught second grade and when I had an opportunity to move to the kindergarten level, I took it because it was a nice fresh start. And it has been a fresh start for the last few years.”

Olliges has enjoyed being a teacher, but at times it became chaotic.

“An average day with the kindergartners is hectic and busy. I look back on my first year of teaching where I had 33 kindergarteners and no aide, and that was definitely an experience. […] I had them all reading at the end of kindergarten so that was an incredible time,” Olliges said.

She has shared certain memories and moments with the students that she considers valuable.

“One of my favorite things that we do is when we make Christmas ornaments in December with pictures of their faces on it, because it is something that will last with them for many years. I like doing crafts with the kids. I don’t have any children of my own so they have been like my own kids,” Olliges said.

Olliges says that she will also miss the relationships that she develops with students.

 “You grow together and the first day it’s pretty much just a name but as the year goes on you become really a part of a family because you spend so much time here with them that you become part of them. And when I leave here, I will miss the relationships I had with the kids,” Olliges said.

The principal at CMZ, Heather Clay says that the staff and students will miss her enthusiasm and dedication.

“The last three years that I worked with her, I noticed that it’s hard to match her compassion with students. She really cares about, not only their learning, but that all of their other needs are met. If they ever needed anything she wouldn’t hesitate to get it for them. She has an amazing love and care and it will be hard to lose that here. She’s been very compassionate,” Clay said.

One of Olliges’ favorite things about teaching is the personalities that the students bring in the classroom.

 “I will miss doing the fun things with the kids because just watching them, their expressions and being able to watch them grow is a wonderful experience. I will miss the atmosphere and the environment here, but most of all the time that I get to spend knowing the kids,” Olliges said.

During her retirement Olliges will spend time doing her favorite things like horseback riding and taking care of her dogs.

“We will absolutely miss her at Crittenden Mt. Zion, and we loved that she was always there to meet the kid’s needs and was there to comfort them,” Clay said.

Walters: ‘I’ve been blessed . . .’
BJ Walters loves spending breakfast with the hundreds of children she’s taught in her 26 years. That’s what she’s going to miss when she retires.

Born and raised in Williamstown, Walters began as a business education teacher at Grant County High School, then taught physical education at Crittenden Mt. Zion Elementary and moved to Sherman Elementary School when it opened in 2008.

“I’m glad that I came to Sherman because I got to start their Physical Education program off on a good note,” Walters said.
She was inspired to be a Physical Education teacher when she was inspired by her own P.E. teacher in elementary school. The career has been rewarding for her as she witnesses accomplishments by her students.

“I think one of the things I like is all of the hugs and when you see the excitement on a child’s face when they accomplish something,” Walters said. “I had a 6-foot basketball goal and one child in particular had some developmental issues and every year she would try and try to make it in the goal and when she reached the fourth grade, she finally made her first basket and it was like she had won the Olympics. I was able to witness that accomplishment.”

Walters says that physical education can help her students with their other classes and subjects.

“Students that are good skippers are usually also good readers. The motor development is important to their overall learning. Exercise helps them to stay physically fit and it helps them to focus their mind, it gives them a break that they need during the day so they can focus on academics,” Walters said.

She hopes to be a positive influence on her students and their fitness level.

“I try to teach them what they need to know to keep their body healthy and activities they can do to stay healthy over the summer. It also gives them responsibility to take care of their fitness level after I teach them what they can do to improve it,” Walters said.

Walters will miss several aspects of teaching.

“I will miss the daily interaction with the students. Even if you come in having a bad day, a child greets you in the hallway with a big smile and a hug it has a way of brightening your day. And I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing educators, and such nice people,” Walters said.

David Fordyce, the principal at SES, says that the community will miss her cheerful and pleasant outlook.

“She did an absolutely fantastic job getting to know the students and staff. She helped the school and the community bond together. She was a great physical education teacher because she got kids healthy and the staff healthy as well. We will miss her enthusiasm; she had absolutely wonderful enthusiasm with everything going on at the school,” Fordyce said.

A portion of her decision to retire is to keep her cancer in remission after being diagnosed with Follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008. She will continue to raise money and awareness at the Grant County Relay for Life events that she attends annually.

 Walters plans to spend time with her mother as well as staying active by golfing and bowling, which were some of her favorite sports to teach her students.

 “To me, all of my students were my children when they came in the door,” Walters said. “I will truly miss every one of them.”