Special memories in 35-year teaching career

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Rheba Scobey plans to enjoy retirement. (Democrat photo/Jennifer Vernon)

After 35 years of spending her days in a classroom at Rector Elementary School, Rheba Scobey enters retirement with many special memories.

When Scobey started her career, she taught Elementary Special Education. During the last few years of her career, she taught Title I Math. This gave her the opportunity to work with the children as they progressed through first through sixth grade. The latter position afforded her an opportunity many teachers do not have. "With Title I you can see the academic changes and watch the kids as they grow and develop," she said.

When asked when she first decided to enter the teaching profession, Scobey replied, "My first year in college. Teaching just seemed to be the thing I wanted to do."

Education has changed during her years behind the teacher's desk. She feels the biggest changes have been in three areas. One of these is technology. Scobey said, "When I was in college we didn't use calculators." She laughed as she commented on taking exams without them. The students today rely on them much more than the students of the past.

Another area is the amount of writing required in the various subject areas. Scobey commented on the fact that math is not just computation anymore. She spoke of the need for problem-solving skills and the ability to write an explanation for how the solution was reached.

The final area of change she sees is the fact that many kids have so much going on in their lives that they can't just focus on school. "Kids shouldn't have to worry about so many things," she said.

Scobey is an alumnus of Paragould High School and holds bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Her favorite memories from her years working in the public schools include being in school with her children. She said her daughter, Jill, went to the school while she cleaned up her room prior to the start of the school year. She spoke of finding pictures Jill made while she was working as she packed up to come home.

Many people would say that teaching is a thankless job with low pay. When asked what she would say to change their minds, Scobey said, "I would say that it is a very rewarding job because you have the opportunity to influence and change lives -- not only the students, but their parents as well." She talked about the great feeling a teacher gets when a student reaches high school only to realize how much skills they learned in elementary can help him and turns around to come back and thank the teacher for helping him.

Scobey said she believes that many of the kids today get a "bum rap". "There are lots of good kids and that really makes teaching worthwhile," she said. "There are a lot of good kids that appreciate what a teacher does and that a teacher can really enjoy."

When asked if she had a favorite age group, she said the fifth and sixth graders. "They're old enough that you can joke with them and they know what you're talking about. They're not as literal as the younger ones."

As she enters retirement, Scobey plans to travel, work in her yard, and have more time for activities at First United Methodist Church in Rector. "I have four grandchildren that will need a lot of extra time," she noted.

Scobey is the wife of Kelly Scobey and the mother of Jill Hartsfield of Little Rock and Kirk Scobey of Corning. She is the proud grandmother of Will and Ella Scobey of Corning and Grace and Collier Hartsfield of Little Rock.

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