Retired Educators of Pearl River County share fellowship

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 4, 2017

Since 1971, the Pearl River County chapter of the Retired Education Personnel of Mississippi Association has worked to encourage fellowship between retired teachers in the community.

“I don’t think you ever stop being a teacher,” Vice President Deborah Craig said. “The skills you use in the classroom are the skills you apply your whole life.”

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With close to 75 members, the purpose of the organization is to help retired educators maintain involvement in the betterment of the education system.

“Teaching is a calling from God; it’s a ministry,” group member Brenda Breland said.

Breland received the Teacher of the Year award for 2017.

“It was really surprising; it let’s you know that you’re appreciated,” she said.

It means even more to receive the award from her peers, Breland said.

While the award focuses on the work of educators after leaving the classroom—like President Barbara Grantham who helps out at Head and Heart tutoring 2nd and 3rd grade students—the selection committee also takes into account an educators overall experience.

After teaching 5th grade for 29 and half years at South Side Elementary, she now helps teach Sunday school at St. Matthew’s Baptist Church.

Breland’s husband, Larry Breland, who is also a retired educator and city councilman, said that last week one of his wife’s more troublesome students thanked her for motivating him in school.

He could have ended up inside the prison system, but instead turned his life around, Larry Breland said.

“It’s rewarding when you see some of your former students who have gone on to be so successful,” Brenda Breland said, including former student and now attorney Nathan Farmer.

For the group, it’s fun to share stories of their time in the classroom, Craig said.

“I miss the kids, don’t miss the work,” Brenda Breland said.

Every month, the group asks one of their seven committees to host a speaker or event.

This month, Larry Breland brought in Picayune City Manager Jim Luke, who shared stories of his education.

“I was not an A student, I’m not even sure I was a B student, but it was only because of encouragement I got from a couple of teachers,” that he succeeded, Luke said.

While other teachers may not have expected Luke to become police chief and later city manager, “I spent a lifetime proving them wrong and proving the teachers that believed in me right,” he said.

Luke thanked the former educators present on Wednesday for all that they have done for the people of Pearl River County.

About Julia Arenstam

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