After 49 years, business teacher Rita Young is retiring from Coffee County Central High School.
Last year, Young wasn’t sure retirement was something she wanted, but now the 72-year-old knows it’s time to say goodbye to her classroom.
“I’m not saying it maybe wasn’t a goal (to reach 50 years),” Young said. “Somebody said ‘you’ll know when it’s time.’”
Young will still be involved in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), which she’s ran for years before her daughter, Michelle Henley, took over. Young actually was in charge of FBLA before it was named that - Tennessee Office Education Club, then turned into the Office Education Association, then evolved into Business Professionals of America, which was eventually merged with FBLA. She still has jackets from the prior three organizations and is saving them, along with pictures, notes, cards and various other mementos she’s collected over her nearly 50-year tender.
“I’m ready to get out of the classroom, but I’m not ready to leave the kids,” Young said.
She will miss the kids and the faculty most. Many of her students are faculty at CCCHS and she’s taught three generations of students. What made her time with the students special was watching them grow as people and helping build their soft skills and confidence. Young believes a teacher should teach the entire student and not just prepare them for tests.
Her other highlights include going to FBLA nationals, her students creating a 7-year long legacy in her honor of helping breast cancer patients with the school’s annual fundraiser and watching students perform and having a classroom next door to Michelle.
“It’s been wonderful,” Young said.
“I’ve had some good times, it’s no doubt,” Young added. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
She is being replaced by one of her former students, Andrea Freeze. Freeze is an economics teacher at the high school and taught business in the past.
Young’s career in CCCHS
Ever since third grade, Young knew her calling was to be a teacher. Her passion in her high school business class confirmed just what kind of teacher she wanted to be.
She graduated the University of Tennessee at Martin with a degree in Business Education. She later received her Master’s in Business Education in 1974.
In January 1970, she was hired in Coffee County as a substitute teacher. She was hired as a full time teacher the following semester.
She is the last full time instructor who has been around since before the current high school building opened.
Young was a former Career and Technical Education director at the school and taught at the same time. She left the CTE director position to focus solely on teaching.
Her last day is the last day of the 2018-19 school year – May 24. Her retirement party is on Monday, May 20 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at CCCHS. All are welcome.