After thirty years as an educator including seven years as Principal of DeKalb County High School, Kathy Hendrix is retiring.
She will be stepping down as principal when the school year ends. Director Mark Willoughby has not yet officially named her replacement.
Looking back over her career, Hendrix, in an interview with WJLE Monday, said being an administrator was never something she had set out to do. " I never thought I would want to be an administrator. When I got my Masters degree I went into curriculum instruction. But later on when I got my Ed.s, it just seemed like I didn't have anything else to get that in so I got that in administration. It just worked out. The opportunity came up and I have enjoyed it. I've enjoyed all of it. I enjoyed teaching too. Teaching is very rewarding," she said.
It's not surprising that Hendrix chose education as a career since her parents, Louise and the late Woodrow Frazier, were educators and two of her sisters became teachers. "Both my parents were educators. My mother was a teacher. In fact, she was my (elementary school) teacher at Pea Ridge and my dad was the principal there. My mother later started the library at Smithville Elementary and my dad later became the first principal at DeKalb West School. I have a sister, Peggy Thomas, that lives in Las Vegas. She is an educator out there. My sister Lisa Cripps, currently works in the central office here. Other family members didn't go into education but they have well respected jobs and have done good for themselves too," she said.
A 1974 graduate of DeKalb County High School, Hendrix furthered her education at MTSU in Murfreesboro. "I have three degrees from MTSU. I got my BS, a Masters in curriculum and instruction, and an Ed.s as an administrator," she said. " I always knew I wanted to go to college. Education just seemed to be the (career) path that I needed. I loved math. I took all the math courses I could take while I was in college. I had some good math teachers growing up that gave me a good foundation. I guess I had an aptitude for that," said Hendrix.
Among the teachers she admired most as a young elementary and high school student were Carolyn Adcock and Jean Harney. "I had Ms. Carolyn in grade school. She gave me a good foundation. I had Ms. Harney in math and she was an excellent teacher. They sort of built that foundation for me in math," said Hendrix.
As a teacher and assistant principal, Hendrix said she fostered a great respect for three people in particular. "As a teacher, I had a lot of respect for Mr. Ernest Ray as a principal. He was also my teacher. I worked under him and learned a lot from him as well as Mr. Steve Hayes. While I was an assistant for two years, I learned quite a bit from Mr. Weldon Parkinson. He taught me a lot," said Hendrix.
Before her years at the high school, Hendrix was a classroom teacher at the middle school. " I started out in the middle school teaching sixth grade overload. I taught every subject. They later moved me to the high school where I taught science and math. Until I became administrator that's where I stayed in the classroom teaching math. I've been teaching for thirty years. This is my ninth year as an administrator. I served as two years as an assistant principal and this is my seventh year as principal," said Hendrix.
Asked about her views on today's education standards, Hendrix said she is concerned that some goals have become near impossible to meet. " There are some good things. It has forced us to demand more from students. Our expectations have been raised so high. The curriculum has changed and there's lots of other changes coming down the line, even in the lower grades, probably down in the third and fourth grade, maybe even lower. Things have really changed. What they're having to do now in high school is a lot more demanding on them. There's a lot more rigorous things now because of the testing and the goals the federal and state governments have set. Its almost impossible to meet what they're asking us to do. But we're expected to get these students to achieve all of these things. We try our best. We've got good teachers and they work hard but its putting a lot of stress on everybody, trying to meet the goals that's being demanded of us," she said
As for her future, Hendrix said she plans to spend more time with family and relax. "I'm hoping to be able to travel some and spend more time with my grandchildren and just relax and enjoy life. My mother will be ninety five years old in July and I need to help more with her," she said.
She looks back on her career fondly and said she will miss it "I know I'm going to miss it. I've had a lot of fun. We used to decorate for the prom. I was once a prom sponsor and we had a lot of fun doing that. You have to laugh. I will say to anybody that's in education, you need to laugh when you can," said Hendrix.
Asked if she had any advice for her successor, Hendrix said don't try to go it alone. "Whoever becomes principal, just remember that they need support from everybody because you can't do this job alone. The teachers also need support. You can't do this kind of work and not have support from the parents, the community and everybody. That's something I do feel like I've had and I appreciate that. I appreciate the opportunity that I was given to do this job. I want to say thanks for all the support and help that everyone has given me. I wish everybody the best," said Hendrix.