Retirement reception to honor PLAS’s Betty Hixon

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 28, 2002

Features Editor

On Aug. 4, Betty Hixon will officially close the book on a stellar teaching career that has spanned 43 years.

The Parent-Teacher Organization at Pike Liberal Arts School will host a retirement reception from 2 until 4 p.m. in the school library in honor of Hixon, who is one of the school’s favorite teachers and the last of the original faculty members.

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When the doors of PLAS opened in 1970, Hixon was there to welcome the students, not realizing that she had found a second home and a second family.

But, for Hixon PLAS was just that and that is the reason she has had such a hard time leaving.

Since the 1997-89 school year, Hixon has taught "part of the day."

"I kept on teaching because I enjoy it so much," Hixon

said. "I’ve always contended that my association with young people has kept me young at heart. I’ve been very happy in the classroom and that’s why I’ve had misgivings about retiring. I know I am going to miss going to school every day. I will miss the association with the students and the teachers. The PLAS family is my second family and I know I’m going to miss it."

Hixon probably was born to teach – for sure she was born to a teacher and her mother made such an impression on Hixon that she never really considered doing anything other than teach.

"My mother was an English teacher and I admired her and her abilities so much," Hixon said. "I always thought, and said, the she was the reason I wanted to teach."

Hixon graduated from Pike County High School and Troy State College with her eyes directed toward the classroom.

She taught for a brief time in Montgomery during which she married Bill Hixon and he moved her home to the farm in the

Monticello Community.

She taught three years at Inverness before starting a family. When she resumed her teaching career, it was at Pike County High School for two years and then to Banks for four years. Then she went home to PLAS.

Hixon quickly became a favorite and respected teacher.

She expected that her students do their best and she wouldn’t accept less.

Hixon, laughingly, admitted that she became "famous" for her "tirades," which kept her students in line – the chalk line.

However, it is not for those whip-cracking moments that Hixon will be remember.

She will be remembered as a warm, caring and dedicated teacher who had the ability to bring out the best in her students.

"I wanted every student to know that I cared about them and what they did with their lives," Hixon said "I never said of a child, that he or she wouldn’t amount to anything. You don’t know what will happen in their lives to make them productive members of society."

Any student who ever entered Hixon’s classroom is familiar with those words – productive member of society.

For Hixon,

her goal was for each student she taught to become "a

productive member of society." That was her measure of success.

"Success is measured, in my opinion, by what a person gives to society," Hixon said. "It’s not measured in dollars. I wanted each student to be a part of solving society’s problems, not a part of the problem."

Hixon was able to have an influence on her students outside the classroom.

As the senior sponsor and the director of the senior plays, she has opportunities to get to know her students more as individuals.

"I enjoyed being in the classroom and I loved my subject matter, but I really learned a lot about my students from the extra time I was able to spend with them," she said. "That is what is going to make it especially hard not to go every day."

Even though Hixon won’t be "going every day," she will remain a part of the PLAS.

"After all, I have seven grandchildren," she said, laughing. "It’s time for me to stop teaching and be the ‘available grandmother.’ It’s been a wonderful 43 years and I will still be able to enjoy the successes of my students. I’ll always be interested in them and what they are doing. That will not change."

Hixon said she is not worried about being bored during her retirement years.

She is in her third year as president of the "very active" Pike County Cattlewomen’s Association. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta teachers’ sorority, the Brundidge Study Club and sings in the choir at Brundidge United Methodist Church. And, she plays bridge on the side.

"Bill loves the farm and I do, too," Hixon said. "I’ll be able to do more errands for him and to just enjoy being at home on the farm. I’ll work in the yards some and, hopefully, travel a little. But, first, I’ll be the available grandmother and love every minute of it."