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FHS teacher retires after 46 years


Farragut High School has lost its most senior teacher.

Mary Ball, who taught Spanish at FHS for 39 of the 46 years she spent as an educator, retired in May.

Ball, who graduated from Lincoln Memorial University with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and biology and a master’s degree in educational supervision administration, said once she transferred to FHS she never had the desire to go anywhere else.


“I got so involved [with the program] there that I really never thought about asking for a transfer because I loved it down there. I live in Holston Hills and drove about 50 miles a day but it was worth it. I love teaching and I love the kids,” she said.

Ball began her career at FHS as the only Spanish teacher in a Foreign Language Department consisting of herself and one French teacher. She ended her career as chairperson of the department.

“When I retired in May we had five full-time Spanish teachers and one who came in and taught one class a day and two full-time French teachers. We had full-time German, Russian, and Latin by the time I left,” she said.

Ball said things have changed somewhat over the years but one thing remained the same.

“My job was top teach and theirs was to learn,” she said.

Since retiring Ball has spent the majority of the summer traveling and said she doesn’t really feel retired yet.

“I am always used to being off 10 weeks in the summer time so it hasn’t really hit me yet.

I do a lot of traveling with my family in the summer. Every weekend since the end of May I have traveled all around the southeast, and I have a sorority reunion out in eastern Virginia in the middle of August. So once people get back into school and things get settled down a little bit I will think about what I want to do.

“I will do some volunteer work, or I was offered a job in upper East Tennessee mentoring some interns in schools,” she added.

When asked if she would consider substituting she said, “I will if they need somebody to teach for a few weeks or to fill in if someone is on leave. I would be willing to do that but not to substitute on a day-to-day basis.”

Ball said her best piece of advice to new educators would be to begin with their classes as they intend to proceed.

“There was a time when chewing gum in class and talking in class was the only problems you had. It has evolved over time, just like society, the problems and the pressures and all.

“Now teachers do not have as much control for discipline inside their classrooms.

“I always set my standards the first four or five days. I didn’t make to many negative rules, I just said ‘I demand respect. You respect each other, you respect yourselves, you are here on time and you do your work.’

Ball said one mistake young educators make is to try to to be friend with students before demanding their respect.

“You are not their friends first. You establish your rules right then,” she added.

Ball said this philosophy created smooth sailing for her.

“The principal used to tell me, ‘Well if we didn’t see anymore students than the ones you send…’ and I said, ‘Well if I send one they are ready for prison.’

“I could count on two hands the number of students I ever had to refer to the principal’s office for discipline reasons.”

 

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