Teachers reminisce about first jobs

Tessa Koen, Reporter

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Before entering a rewarding teaching career, teachers experienced a wide variety of jobs. Students don’t know a lot about their teacher’s pasts like what they did before the job they now have. Maybe they had some odd jobs, or a job that was ordinary. These staff members  and teachers have all experienced different types of jobs: Mrs. Emily Cook, guidance counselor; Mr. Matt Dixon, PE, Driver’s Ed, and athletic teams; Mr. Lee Brown, social studies; Mrs. Laura Blevins, librarian; Ms. Beverly Proffitt, guidance counselor; Mrs. Jennifer McGinnis, business teacher; Mrs. Amanda Whittaker, business teacher; Mrs. Mary Cockerham, art teacher; Mr. Michael Blevins, business teacher; and Chuck Yost, band director. 

Mrs. Cook used to be a deli worker at Kroger, and she was a teacher through Energy Express. She fried chicken when she worked at Kroger. She hated it because of how she would smell like fryers after working all day. “I think everybody should have a first job that they don’t one-hundred percent enjoy because it pushes you to work harder,” Cook says. Mr. Dixon also had a teaching position through Energy Express. In addition, he was a waiter at Mountainview Family Diner, and he sold shoes at Jcpenney’s. From the Energy Express program, he learned that he enjoyed making a difference in kid’s lives. The first time he waited on a table he spilled a Diet Coke down a guy’s entire back. 

Mr. Brown was a billboard painter. He painted large ones like you would see on the side of a highway. That job taught him that he didn’t want to do that for a living because it was dangerous, and teaching isn’t. It also taught him how to work by himself and be more comfortable with doing so. Mr. Blevins cleaned a pool and took care of the flowers at a hotel in Princeton. He enjoyed making the flowers look nice. He decided to do teaching because of the students. “I wanted to be in a place where I could encourage the teens as they go throughout their day and with the different issues they deal with,” Blevins said. 

Mr. Yost worked at Acme, a local grocery store, as a bag boy. He also worked at Tazewell Industries making roof bolts, and he had a paper route for the Knoxville News Sentinel. He worked at Home Depot in the garden department and operated a forklift. He liked those jobs, except for getting up early on the paper route. 

Ms. Proffitt worked at the YMCA, at a car dealership (cleaning at night) and at Ryan’s as a waitress. She taught 6th grade health, 7th grade drama, and 8th grade math. Mrs. McGinnis sold vacuums. She was a car salesman and a waitress as well. She didn’t like those jobs. “I thought they were going to be something different than what they were, and it didn’t work out,” McGinnis says. She said the vacuuming job was a bit weird because you had to go to strange houses. Some of the houses were in the middle of nowhere, or they had a ferocious dog that wouldn’t let you on the porch. 

Mrs. Blevins had jobs at her college. She worked security in the gym and in the dorms. She liked working in the dorms, but not in the gyms. She was basically fighting with people on how much time they had left on the racquetball court. Her job taught her how to be able to stand up for herself and say no to people who were older than her. 

Mrs. Whittaker used to work at a locally owned clothing boutique. Her passion is clothes and fashion, and it’s a big thing for her. The job helped her with business and marketing so she was able to take that into the job she has now. “Teaching, I think, is the perfect profession if you’re a mom. Since I have two little children, it’s the perfect schedule because you’re on the same schedule that they’re on.” Whittaker says. Mrs. Cockerham used to be a waitress and a cashier. She also worked at a craft store. She really enjoyed her time at the craft store. She loved receiving items for the store and being able to price them. She had always wanted to be a teacher and she’s really happy with the job she has now. 

Jobs can certainly be unpredictable. They can change at any time. These teachers have all learned something from the jobs they used to have. They either enjoyed them, or never wanted to do them again. Either way, they’re surely happy with the life and the job, that they have now.