VILONIA — Carolyn Frazier began teaching in the Vilonia School District the in 1973, the year President Richard Nixon resigned his post, the average cost of gasoline was 39 cents per gallon and the average cost of a car was $4,000.
"I’ve seen a lot of changes," she said, regarding her 38 years of teaching.
Following an awards presentation held Thursday evening, Frank Mitchell, school superintendent, recognized Frazier before a crowd of about 200. He also announced her plans for retirement and presented her with a plaque. Touting her praises, he said he offered her a job as an administrator his first year working in the school district about 25 years ago, but she turned him down.
Regarding the offer, she said "I work for principals. I don’t want to be one."
In her first classroom, she recalls having 35 third-graders. The school didn’t have air conditioning and the afternoons seemed hotter than now.
"The windows were few and they folded out, not windows you could raise and get any airflow," she said. "We had box fans. I always felt so sorry for the kids when they would come in from noon recess they would be so hot."
She used a chalkboard for teaching rather than the computers and Smartboards she currently uses in her classroom at the elementary school. There was only one principal for the entire district rather than one per school.
"Then, Mr. (Ed) Sellers was the principal of the whole school," she said. "He was a good one."
Frazier, who is certified to teach kindergarten through 12th grade, taught third-graders for three years. Since, she has been teaching second graders "students who work hard and love school."
"I just love that age," she said.
Her career has left her with many humorous stories, a few sad ones and many stories of success. For instance, she has taught several students who have gone on to be teachers including Cathy Riggins, principal of the Middle School. She was one of the students, Frazier recalls, in her first class.
On the lighter side, Frazier told about a second-grader who skipped school. His mistake, he passed the school bus riding on a three wheeler. Laughing, she said, he was taken into custody by the police, and his parents were called.
"Then, this was such a small town everyone knew when something like that happened," she said.
Frazier said she loves the Vilonia School District, a place she attended pre-school through high school. When she graduated, she said, the district had two buses and there were 25 in her graduating class compared to the 200 plus in the 2011 graduating class. She attended the University of Central Arkansas for four years earning a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in reading.
Following retirement, she has plans to spend more time with her husband Tommy and the rest of her family. As well, she wants to turn her attention to the elderly volunteering to help those in need and just extending a hand of friendship.
A reception for will be held from 2:30-5 p.m. Friday at the elementary school.
Frazier may hold the longest tenure, but she is not the only one retiring. Also, receiving special recognition during the ceremony was Glenda Brownlee, David Garrett, Janna Hayes and Steve Shock.
Forty teachers and staff received five-year pens and 11 received 15-year pins. As well, six including Karla Ault, Lori Daves, Jeannie Grissom, Susie Platt, Cathy Riggins and Vickie Rogers received 20-year pins. Five, including Charles Burgess, Marcus Copeland, Wand Lewis, Glenn McKay and Mitchell received 25-year pins. Sandra Brady received a 30-year pin.