August 24, 2005
Albany- Bessie King reviews simple dialogue with her French students, but often encourages them to go beyond the basics in all that they do.
"They try to get by with the least information, and I tell them it's more to education than lunch, PE and lunch," King says.
Though the veteran educator won't tell her students her age, she will tell them she began her career at 17 years old and just started her 51st year on the job. She tells them to do the math.
"I taught all of my sisters and brothers. That made it easier, so that helped me to teach because I've been teaching really before I started," she says.
King first taught in Baker County at a separate but equal school. Now at Monroe High School she teaches both French and Latin. Many of her students' parents sat in her classroom at some point.
"They say are you still teaching? That's the shock," King laughs.
More than 20 years ago, King taught French to Sally Dugger, who is now her co-worker.
"It's just a joy. She's just always so energetic still. She's just so amazing," Dugger says.
Dugger is a 14-year veteran herself, and says she draws inspiration from King. "It's just so motivational to see her still working so hard at it after all this time."
King says she'll eventually retire, but despite pressure from her daughter she isn't sure when that will be.
"And I told her once she gives me enough money to travel I'm going to do just that."
Until then, she says she'll continue to do the job she loves and has brought her so much joy.
"It's just so wonderful to get at a certain place where you can enjoy what you do," Kings says.
When King does retire she says she'll spend time with her grand-daughter and travel to some of the places she teaches her students about.
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