If you don't think a teacher can have an impact on your life, just ask Harriet Cantrell, Family and Consumer Science Teacher at DCHS.
As she looks toward retirement after thirty three years, Ms. Harriet said she has a former high school teacher to thank for influencing her decision to become an educator. "My high school Home Ec teacher is the one who really steered me in this direction," said Cantrell. " She was a wonderful person and just got me so interested in this area and this is what I chose."
Cantrell's teaching career began in 1979. After graduating from high school and earning her college degree, she spent the first few years working at the local hospital before becoming a Home Economics instructor at DCHS. "I graduated from high school in Nashville at Two Rivers and then I got my degree from Middle Tennessee State University. I worked at DeKalb General Hospital for seven years before I started my teaching career. I moved to DeKalb County High School in 1979 and have been here ever since," said Cantrell.
Over the years, the class she teaches has changed courses and has even undergone a name change. "It changed from Home Economics to Family and Consumer Science. We've moved a lot from the year long classes to semester classes and I've taught pretty much everything in the curriculum since I've been here. The courses have changed. We've dropped some and added some and we're still doing that. Its changing year by year," she said.
Ms. Harriet has enjoyed her job and being around the students, which she said, has always made her feel young at heart. "I have loved my job. Its never been a chore for me to come to work and do my job. My classroom has always been my salvation. The students have always kept me young and young at heart. My class is more like a family life skills class. Its teaching them skills that they can use everyday and I've had a lot of contact with students after they've graduated who have come back and talked to me to let me know that things they learned in my class have been very useful. It has been very rewarding for me,"said Cantrell.
Along with her teaching duties, Cantrell has been involved in other school activities over the years. "I've done a little bit of everything since I've been here. I was a cheerleading sponsor for fifteen years. I did the prom for about ten years. I've done graduation with Ms. Dixie (Crook) for a long time. Just a little bit of everything out here that had to be done, we've always filled in and done it," she said.
As she leaves DCHS after this school year, Ms Harriett said she will take with her many pleasant memories. She takes pride in having watched many of her former students become successful in their own careers "There are lots of students who have made really strong impressions on me, Danielle Collins is one that I can think of. Dr. David Foutch is one of my former students. There's just a lot of people in this area who have gone on to great things who I have had the opportunity to teach. There's so many, they're hard to name," said Cantrell.
Cantrell is very grateful to all her friends and family who have supported her. "I would love to thank my DCHS students that I have worked with all these years, the faculty and staff and all of their families, and my family and everyone who has touched my life in so many ways over these last three decades," she said.
As for what's next in her life, Ms. Harriet said we'll just have to wait and see. "I'm going to enjoy my retirement. I'm not sure that I'm going to do anything special for a while. I know that God has something else for me to do. I would love to work with young people in something but I don't know we're just going to see what opens up," she said.