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Some Shelby County High School graduates returned home the weekend of Jan. 25 for basketball Homecoming activities. Two graduates returned home permanently last August, when they started teaching positions at East Middle: Casey Page and Marcie Wright.
They join countless others who received their educations in Shelby County and have returned to work alongside former teachers in classrooms where they once could have sat.
Both Page and Wright graduated from SCHS in 2007. Page headed to University of Louisville for a health/sports sciences degree and a master of art in teaching degree. Wright went to University of Kentucky for music education. Both seemed quite at home in their classrooms after school began when they reflected on their paths to this point.
Page considers health and physical education “the most important class a student will have.” He also pursued this avenue because “I'm tired of hearing about how unhealthy kids are these days and wanted to step up to the plate and take the problem on and make a difference.”
Even though he said he considers himself “a sports fanatic.” he knows many students who were so discouraged to participate in sports. “So it was my goal to get them more proficient in these sports, so later on in life they are more likely to participate,” he said.
Teaching seemed a natural path also because his mother, Rachael, is the coordinator for the Youth Services Center at West Middle; his sister, Caytie Burgin, teaches at Collins High; and his brother-in-law is also a teacher. “So I guess you can say it runs in my family,” he said.
However, his appetite was whetted to teach when he went to Africa during his college days at U of L. “That was my first experience teaching, and I absolutely loved it and loved knowing you can make a difference in someone's life,” he said.
Wright said she chose to teach in the field of music because “students who often struggle to excel in the traditional classroom can many times be a success in music performance areas. By giving students an outlet in music, I can hopefully keep them engaged in an aspect of school that they truly love and look forward to each day, all while helping them to be a success.”
She obviously loves music because her resume lists these points: High School: band, orchestra, Shelby Singers, musicals; College: UK Women's Choir, UK Chorale, UK Choristers, Paws & Listen (16-member women's a cappella group); Personal Life: Lexington Singers Children's Choir intern, music teacher at Musikgarten of Lexington, children's choir director at First Baptist Church, adult choir member, hand bell choir member, youth choir director, orchestra.
She singled out former SCHS Choral Director Frances Fonza as being “very instrumental in my decision to go into music education. She gave me opportunities and encouragement that helped me make this choice. Had she not provided these new and different experiences for me, I might have chosen a different path,” she said.
Said Page: “I don't know many people who can say they loved every single year of their schooling, but I can’t think of one that I didn’t truly love.”
He did manage to single out three teachers that really shaped his career path – Kerri Holder and Betty Anderson, when he was at West Middle, and Kelly Cable at SCHS.
“All of them made it so obvious they absolutely loved their job, and they were willing to go the extra mile in order to make their lessons that much more effective,” he said. “It wasn’t about just getting a paycheck but more about the affect you have on students’ lives. All three of them took me in and treated me like I was their own child, guiding me along the years I studied with them. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the person I am now without them.”
Page said he wants to mold students for their future. “I love the teaching role I have because at the age of middle school a lot of students are starting to make choices that will affect the rest of their lives,” he said.
Said Wright: “I like that I get to work with students during a difficult transition period in their lives. It provides many opportunities for building self-esteem and giving encouragement.”
Duanne B. Puckett is public relations coordinator for Shelby County Public Schools.