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FHS says ‘farewell’ to four

Vickie Love thought her new teaching job at Farragut High School would be a letdown compared to her previous 32 years teaching marketing at Carter High School. Wrong.

As an assistant principal, and later the school’s athletic director, Dwayne Simmons looked for a new challenge at FHS after years of dealing with the hardships and rewards of reaching inner city youth.

Dr. Marilyn Carico now finds herself leaving behind the very German department at FHS she started 33 years earlier.

Jan Renfro spent all 22 of her years at FHS as attendance secretary.

“It is a special time when you have four individuals who have given their life to something; to the students and the staff. When you look at the years of commitment, I think it’s a hundred-plus,” FHS principal Michael Reynolds said during a May 24 retirement ceremony for these four FHS employees in the school’s library. “It’s something that you just don’t see, a commitment to a cause and a passion with which they served.”

Love, a marketing and logistics teacher at FHS for 14 years, became emotional when recalling her experience.

“It’s just been a joy to work here,” she said. “I have always enjoyed teaching. When I came to Farragut I didn’t really expect to like it. I wanted a change because my daughter [Ashley] was going to be a freshman [at FHS].”

Expecting to teach at FHS only the four years Ashley was attending, “After the first month I was hooked,” Love said. “I planned to retire in 2001, but every year I’ve just stayed because I enjoy the faculty, the administration, the students. A wonderful place to be. … I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s a great environment, I teach a great subject. And I have wonderful students and a great administration.”

Love’s brother, Gary Locke, read a poem in front of the gathering honoring his sister.

Teaching for 35 years in Knox County Schools, Carico started the German departments at both Farragut and Bearden high schools.

“It’s been really great, I’ve really enjoyed working with the kids. I love my colleagues,” Carico said. “I would not have stayed here that long if it weren’t that way. I love working with kids, and I love my subjects. It was a perfect fit for me the whole time.”

Carico said she’ll continue to teach part-time at FHS.

Simmons retires with 38 years teaching, administrative and coaching experience — 22 with Knox County Schools ending with eight at FHS.

Simmons, 64, said his decision was “very tough,” but added, “I felt like it was time, I was getting a little tired.”

“When you get up in the morning and you say, ‘Wow, I don’t feel like getting dressed,’ they said that’s a sign,” Simmons added. “I had a few mornings where I didn’t feel like putting [dress] clothes on.”

Simmons said FHS “is the best situation, education-wise, that I’ve ever been in .… This was just a great situation. To see students that are really high-achieving young people .… To see our kids out here with a lot of motivation and doing what they’re supposed to be doing all day long is great.

“It’s been a great way to end a career.”

Simmons also taught and coached at Knoxville College for 13 years, including four as men’s basketball head coach in the late 1970s. Also included was four years teaching heath/physical education at Karns Middle School from 1990 to 1994.

Simmons began his career in Toledo, Ohio — teaching high school biology for three years — after graduating from Knoxville College in 1969.

“In growing up I always felt like I wanted to help the disadvantaged, so I always tried to get jobs at the inner city schools,” Simmons said. “They needed role models, and someone to give them the little hugs and things that they needed.

“And then, all of a sudden, I’m sent to Farragut High School,” he added.

Renfro, who chose not to comment, was visited by most of her colleagues and well-wishers, numbering in the dozens, during the ceremony.


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