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FIS’s Bryce retires

Farragut Intermediate School fifth-grade teacher Debbie Bryce retired after teaching off and on for 35 years –– taking breaks to raise her six children.

“It’s kind of hard to justify raising 25 of someone else’s [children] if you have children of your own that need you,” Bryce said.

“I’m one of the few who was fortunate enough to have a husband who earns a good income so I didn’t have to work. I’m very blessed that I’ve been able to stay at home when they’ve needed me the most,” she added.

Bryce’s passion for teaching began as a child: “I used to play teacher with my three siblings … teach them the alphabet, math. Later, in high school, I taught baton classes.”

Part of teaching fifth grade at FIS involved preparing students for middle school.

“By the time they leave middle school, they have chosen what side of the fence they are going to be on.

“The funny thing is when they come back and say, ‘You were right… it sure helped me to be prepared.’ Things like that make you feel good,” Garner said.

Responsibility, organizational skills and accountability are three key traits Bryce taught her students.

“It’s hard for parents sometimes to let their child take the consequence for a lower grade because they didn’t complete an assignment correctly.”

It’s a lesson that needs to be learned, she said.

Once a student enters high school, a grade is cumulative and not year-by-year as it is in kindergarten through eighth grade, making it harder for a student to recover from a year of poor academic choices.

Bryce remembers a former student who “came to us from a private school. It took a great deal of adjustment for him.

“Last year he was at an international school. He’s told me since, ‘You’re so right and thank you for helping me be ready to do this.’”

A benefit to Farragut schools is “the parents are so involved and supportive in most cases. That makes a huge difference.”

Bryce began her teaching career at FIS under former principal Dr. Robert Fraser, who died suddenly in 2006. “He had the most confidence in his teachers. ... He liked everyone.”

Current principal Kay Wellons “really stepped up and filled that need. I think she’s made a valiant effort to fill those shoes.”

Altogether, Bryce has taught for 18 years at Knox County Schools.


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