Mississippi's 1st Kindergarten teacher retires from Pass Elem. - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mississippi's 1st Kindergarten teacher retires from Pass Elem.


By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) – "Good morning, good morning, good morning to you," the class sang.

For the past 34 years, Jane Blanton started her day with that uplifting song. On Tuesday, it was her swan song.  Blanton officially retired from Pass Christian Elementary School.

"My certification is running out.  Thirty-four years, I'm just ready to rest," said Blanton with a smile.

Blanton started her teaching career at Pass Elementary. The year was 1976 and she was just 22. Blanton and another teacher were chosen to teach a pilot Kindergarten program in Mississippi.

"She was the veteran teacher and I was the first year teacher.  That was the criteria of the program and she was out on maternity leave. So I was by myself for two weeks, with no materials. Nothing had been ordered.  No furniture or anything," she said.

Blanton taught first grade for a couple of years, but returned to teaching Kindergarten.  In fact, half the students in her class this year, she also taught their parents.

One of her proudest moments is seeing former students.  On Tuesday, Heather Henderson stopped by to say good-bye.  Henderson just finished her first year as a Kindergarten teacher at Pass Elementary.  Guess who inspired her?

"I hate to see her go," said Henderson. "I can remember being in her class how long ago and her reading me stories.  And I got her to guide me through my first year.  So I couldn't be more lucky."

Blanton has given close to 1,000 children an educational foundation. That's why her class surprised her with a handmade quilt.

"It's something I'll treasure forever," Blanton said.

The hands on the quilt symbolize the many lives she has touched.

"It's like bittersweet.  I'm ready to leave, but I love my boys and girls too," she said with tears in her eyes. "Just seeing their sweet smiling faces every day and seeing them just change and grow so much in the few months that I have them. It's going to be very hard to leave."

Blanton may be leaving the classroom for good, but her legacy lives on in the children. 

"It's going to be hard, but it's time.  Thirty-four years in the best school district in the state and maybe the nation," she said.

During her career, Blanton has won numerous teaching awards, including "School Teacher of the Year" and "District Teacher of the Year."

Blanton plans to do a lot of traveling and looks forward to not having to wake up at 4:30 every morning.  She doesn't have any children of her own, but said she has been a mother to so many over the years.

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