Debbie Bible - Lighting up lives for four decades
“I always wanted to be a home ec teacher,” said Debbie Bible. “I used to tell Mrs. Rollins, my home ec teacher at Marion County High, that when I grew up I was going to be her. But when I graduated from Middle Tennessee State University and it was time to find a job, it dawned on me that I couldn’t be Mrs. Rollins until she retired! So I taught kindergarten at Whiteside Elementary for three years until she did.”
Bible, SVEC’s Inspiring Educator honoree for April, did, indeed, take Mrs. Rollins’ place as home economics teacher at Marion County High School in 1978 and held that position until her own retirement in January 2018. During those years, the name of the class and the emphasis on the subject matter changed with public perception on the value of what many called “stitchin’ and stewin’.”
“We began focusing more on family life and child care and even delved into mental health,” Bible said. “But people still need to know how to cook and properly feed and care for themselves and their families, so we may see it circle back around. The last time the name and curriculum were changed, I figured if I couldn’t even keep up with what they were calling the program, it was time to get out!
“I always thought that I had a fun job — one I enjoyed getting up and going to each day. And I can’t say enough good things about Marion County Schools. This is a great place to teach. I always had great administrators who were willing to listen to suggestions. And we have such great young people. I took a lot of students to regional, state and national competitions during my 15 years as a cheer coach and as a sponsor for what was originally Future Homemakers of America and later Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. I always had teachers from other systems comment on how polite and well-behaved our students were — even the ones I thought were not as well-behaved!
“I encouraged participation in these competitions because I wanted my students to see larger cities and interact with students from huge schools to get a taste of the world outside their hometown.
“I was also the sponsor for the Ridley Rowdies Pep club. It was one of the most fun jobs ever. I absolutely loved it. I don’t even know how it got started, but I think the cheerleaders wanted a big, enthusiastic group to cheer in front of — students who would get the crowd going and cheer on the team. It just kept growing and changing each year with new students evolving as leaders with new ideas for fun activities. Our group inspired other schools in the Valley to form similar groups that were always trying come up with names as great as ‘Ridley Rowdies’ and outdo us.
“Getting to know all these students with different personalities and goals and dreams was what I enjoyed most about teaching. I have lived in Marion County pretty much all my life, so I grew up with a lot of their parents, and I taught so long I ended up teaching the children of many of my first students. I figured I’d better hurry up and retire before I started getting their grandchildren in my classes! If you count the 12 years I was in Marion County schools as a student, I was a part of that system for 54 and a half years. I thought that was probably enough.”
Now that she has retired, she stays involved with students as a 4-H Club volunteer leader. She has trained 4-H culinary arts and life skills teams. The students on these state-winning teams have traveled to New Orleans and Dallas for national competitions and are preparing now for a competition in Orlando, Florida. Bible, who loves to travel, has accompanied them on the trips as a chaperone.
“I so enjoy seeing my former students with their children and hearing about their successes,” Bible said. “I like to think that I might have had a little part in preparing them for a successful life after high school.”