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Sain, Smith, Webster retire from Farragut Primary

Brenda Sain, Bonnie Smith and Philip Webster have retired from Farragut Primary School.

Altogether, the trio served Knox County for 79 years.

Webster spent 36 years teaching primarily special needs children in Knox County schools.

With an average classroom size of about seven, Webster said, “I’ve always liked it. I like to teach them how to read.”

His style is “funny” and he regularly used puppets in the classroom.

“I teach in a positive way.

“Some of them come back after high school. You wouldn’t think they’d remember you.”

Webster remembers a blond girl of about 5 or 6 years old who moved away from the Farragut area many years ago.

“She had graduated and was going to college. She wrote me a lengthy note. She said I knew what to do with her and she really made it in school because of me.”

It’s students such as this one that brought his teaching career full circle.

“It’s so rewarding, helping kids that probably won’t make it without some extra help.”

After he retired from teaching, Webster began a part-time job as a travel agent. His wife currently works at FPS.

Webster’s advice to Knox County: “Keep special needs children in classes together.”

Sain taught 20 years in Knox County schools.

Sain had “the best of both worlds.”

In a kindergarten classroom decorated with student artwork –– many pieces inspired by characters in children’s books –– Sain said, “I like children’s literature. I think you can teach about anything with it.

“It’s my goal to give them the skills, techniques they need to read,” Sain added.

“I love this age! They’re fun. At this level, you touch so many. You work with a child and a parent; 90 percent are success stories.”

Sain taught before she had her own children, then she took a break to raise them. After that break, she returned to teaching.

“I was fortunate enough to raise my own children and teach others. It’s been a joy to teach after my children had grown.

“I’ve had the best of both worlds,” Sain added.

The teaching passion began with a dance teacher in high school.

With a glance around the classroom, she said, “It’s the people, the leadership, parents, children. It’s an excellent community. It’s a very warm working environment with a caring group of people” that will be missed.

After retiring, Sain plans to spend more time with her two granddaughters and husband.

Sain’s advice to teachers: “Take a break to raise your children.”

Smith spent 23 years in Knox County schools; she ended her career teaching her favorite grade: second.

“I think you have to learn patience and that everyone is different, learn that you have to meet needs of children in multiple ways. ... You’ve got to love kids. You’ve got to think of it as a commitment, as a career. Not a job.”

A benefit to the commitment is “kids are very funny, they don’t even realize they’re being funny. They are bright little people and you can learn a lot from them if you just listen.

“I think the beauty of teaching the little ones is seeing how they are at the beginning of the year and seeing the progress they’ve made at the end of the year.”

Progress such as was made by a little boy from a Spanish speaking family.

“I had a little boy in my room this year who spoke perfect English. I met his parents a few times. The last day of school, the dad came up to me and he was telling me how proud he was. And then he said as he patted his chest, ‘From my heart I thank you.’ It’s those little moments.”

She’ll miss “the staff at that school, and [FPS principal] Julia Craze. She is top notch. She really supports her staff.”

She has two children and two grandchildren and plans to spend much of her time with them alongside her husband.

Smith’s advice to Knox County schools: “focus on teaching time.”

Her advice to teachers: “You have to laugh everyday.”


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