She may be retiring as a teacher from the DeKalb County School System after thirty six years, but don't expect Judy Redmon to be inactive.
Although this long time educator will not be returning to the classroom next year, Redmon plans to stay busy in other ways. "People ask me if I'm looking forward to retirement. I'm looking forward to a change, but I'm always going to miss the kids. My husband Ronnie and I are really active in church. I've been to a college and put in an application to be a supervisor so we'll see how that pans out. I can't remain inactive when it comes to kids. I'll do something," she said.
Redmon's teaching career began in 1976 at DeKalb Middle School. "I taught at the middle school for 32 years. I taught fifth grade social studies for two years and fifth grade math. In the middle of my sixth year, Jane Hobson moved to a school in Smyrna and I was moved up to seventh grade math. I also taught seventh grade geography and seventh grade English. Later I became assistant principal for six years," said Redmon.
"I've also taught adult education, all subjects for fourteen years and I have done summer school at the high school for four years," she added.
After her years at DeKalb Middle School, Redmon moved to Northside Elementary School where she has taught fourth grade math. Redmon was also one of the first local educators to attain career level III, status, an achievement only few have reached.
Redmon said it was her love for children that inspired her to become a teacher. "I come from a big family, fourteen kids. I'm one of fourteen. I was the first to go to college. I quit high school when I was a junior, beginning my junior year. I later got my GED and went on to college. My love of kids I guess is the drawing factor that got me into education," she said.
As a teacher, Redmon has had the added pleasure of working with her own daughter and watching her grandchildren advance through the school system. " It's been a really good pleasure of mine to have taught with my daughter, Patty Hale for several years, the four years I've been here at Northside plus seven years at the middle school we've taught together and that's been a real pleasure in my life," said Redmon. Our youngest granddaughter is here at Northside. She is in the fifth grade and will be in the middle school next year. Our grandson is in the middle school now," she said.
While she has enjoyed her years as an educator, Redmon said there were often challenges to overcome. "When I started at the middle school, we had no walls (in the classrooms), just little dividers. My (area) was probably only a 20 x 20 section down there. I had a set of lockers on one side and the rest of it was just open to the other classrooms. Mr (Ernest) Ray later came (as principal) and he got the walls put up. They have modified it a lot since then, putting up a lot of dividers and walls. It's made it a lot better," she said.
A major obstacle of teaching in a classroom without walls, according to Redmon, was holding the students' attention, when they could be so easily distracted by what was happening in the adjoining class room. "It was terrible because you would be trying to teach and the other teachers were presenting their material and If my material wasn't as interesting as the other teachers, then they would listen to that teacher more than me. So it was tough to hold their attention,' she said.
Redmon, like other educators, has seen changes in curriculum and teaching standards over the years. " The curriculum has really changed in the years that I have been a teacher. The material I once taught in fifth grade math, I am now teaching in fourth grade. I don't always agree with what they are asking us to teach. Sometimes I think they're requiring too much of our children, but they say you teach it, so I teach it. But it has made it more difficult for the students," said Redmon.
As for mentors, Redmon said former DMS principal Ernest Ray is among those she admired most. "Mr Ray has probably been the biggest influence in my life because when he came to the middle school to be the principal, my husband and I had just had our third child and he was born with a physical disability. I was having to miss quite a bit of school to take care of my child and his physical disability. I ran out of sick days. Mr. Ray gave me some of his sick days. He was just a good influence on the kids. They respected him. The teachers respected him. He was fair and honest. He has just really been a good person in my life," she said.
Redmon said she is grateful for the opportunity to have been a teacher and is proud of her service. "I've had a good thirty six years. It hasn't always been the best, but its been a good thirty six years. I really appreciate all the people that I've worked with. I've worked with and under seven administrators. I am fortunate to have been able to stay in this profession as long as I have. I am proud of that,' she said.
Redmon is also among those who help raise money for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life. "That is a special place in my heart because my husband had cancer," she said. This year's Relay for Life is set for Friday, June 8 at Greenbrook Park.