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Linn County Leader - Brookfield, MO
  • BHS ‘Institution’ Retiring After 39 Years

  • In August of 1976, Jim Hart walked into a classroom for the first time at Brookfield High School. At the end of this current school year, Mr. Hart will retire from his position as an English teacher at BHS. A self-described “institution” at R-3, Mr. Hart estimates that he has taught over 3500 students in his tenure, forming what amounts to a small town and covering two generations of high school students.
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  • In August of 1976, Jim Hart walked into a classroom for the first time at Brookfield High School.  At the end of this current school year, Mr. Hart will retire from his position as an English teacher at BHS.  A self-described “institution” at R-3, Mr. Hart estimates that he has taught over 3500 students in his tenure, forming what amounts to a small town and covering two generations of high school students.
    “I never thought of being anything else but a teacher,” said Hart.  “Early on in high school I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I may have decided earlier, but I always wanted to be an English teacher and writer.”
    Mr. Hart notes that his passion for both reading and writing are still as strong now as they have ever been.
    “I have always been surprised and enchanted by people being able to create other worlds,” said Hart.  “What I love about reading, whether it’s great literature or for entertainment, is the story that pulls me in and makes me read into the wee hours of the night.  I don’t get to do that much anymore.  But that is still my measure of quality for good writing.  I am as much interested in how the writer writes as the story they are telling.  That has marked my interest in great authors, literature, poetry, or whatever it is I am reading.”
    For Mr. Hart, the kids he has taught have been the highlight of his long career.  
    “Kids have been my favorite part, no matter what, kids and what they write,” said Hart.  “I taught a lot of freshmen and sophomores in my early years, and once in a while I would have a kid that would catch my attention as a young writer, and I would be interested in what they would do later on.  I would often encourage them to take the newspaper or be on the yearbook staff in the early years.”
    In recent years, he has even connected with some of his students over social media, after joining Facebook.
    “Right now, some of my favorite things to do are reconnecting with people from the past on Facebook.  Some of my friends on there are kids from my former classes,” said Hart, who noted a special fondness for a pair of past classes.  “I am very fond of the classes of 1983 and 1984.  I have a lot of kids from those classes who I have kept up with over the years, and who I enjoy hearing from.  But the Class of 1984, in particular stands out most in my mind. I had them all as freshmen, and when they moved, I moved with them as sophomores. And then when they were ready for their junior year, we added Literature and I had the best of that class move with me as juniors.  Most of those kids also took journalism and yearbook, so I had a chunk of those kids for five classes in four years.  I have reconnected with them on Facebook, and I really like that.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Since entering school in 1959 as a first grade student at Bogard Elementary School, Jim Hart has lived his life by the school calendar.  Starting next year, the 62-year-old will adjust to the life of the retired, a life he has little foreknowledge of at this time.
    “I don’t know what I am looking forward to about retirement,” admitted Hart.  “I can say honestly I have no concept of what retirement is supposed to be. I have lived and worked by the school calendar, and had my summers off.  I have never held a job other than this one, outside of some ones that don’t count during college, and working on my father’s farm in the summers to make some spending money.”
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