Words by Lindsay Brewer | Image by Blakeney Clouse
For more than two decades, Trisha Gann has invested in the students of the community she loves. A lifelong Carbon Hill Bulldog, Trisha has decided to retire from full-time teaching at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. “I still enjoy teaching, and I want to get out while I still do,” she says.
Sitting in the standard blue-chaired student desk, Trisha shares one anecdote after another about her students. Her love for them oozes out in conversation as she reflects on where she started and the journey that has led her on this 26-year career. She recalls the phone call she received while a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB] about Carbon Hill City School’s need for a special education teacher and a cheerleader sponsor.
At the time, Trisha was working on her bachelor’s degree in special education at UAB where she was on a cheerleading scholarship. “When I graduated college, it was like God said, ‘here, this is where you’re going.’ Like I said, they called me, and I’ve never left,” Trisha smiles. “The Lord just walked me right into this.”
She spent the next 15 years pouring herself into her special-needs students. “I loved teaching students with special needs, I just felt like it was time to do something different,” Trisha states about her move to a regular classroom. Teaching history for the past 11 years has been just as fulfilling for her. She has relished the opportunity to impart real-world information to her students who will one day shoulder the responsibility of voting during the government and economics units.
As a veteran teacher, Trisha understands that being effective only comes when the students know you care about them. Referring to Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Trisha switches out people for kids. She emphasizes the importance of kids wanting to learn from teachers. She says students want to know what teachers know but learn content best from educators who truly care for them. Teaching is about far more than knowing content, it is about loving students. “You’ve got to have a love for kids,” Trisha says.
Trisha’s love for her students extends beyond the classroom. She has been the cheerleading sponsor for the majority of her tenure. Laughing, she shares her theory that she was hired more as the cheerleading sponsor than for the teaching position at the time. She has also served as the sponsor for track and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
When asked what she will miss most when she retires, her immediate answer is, “the students.” Trisha says, “We have really good kids here, and I will miss the funny things they say, the innocence.”
She will also miss the friendship she shares with the other teachers, many of whom are also Bulldog graduates. She credits the close-knit community of Carbon Hill with being a big draw for so many alumni to return as teachers. Even as her day-to-day role changes, Trisha Gann will be a Carbon Hill Bulldog for life. After all she claims, “I bleed blue and white.” 78