6/19/16 Teacher bids goodbye to Williams High

Teacher bids goodbye to Williams High
For Askew, ties to the school run deep
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 6/19/16  
Reprinted with permission.


   Patricia Askew sits in an empty classroom, marking not only the end of another busy school year, but the end of her 35-year-long teaching career at Williams High School.

   Askew graduated from Williams in 1976 and has since watched her three children become Williams alumni. She’s seen the school from all perspectives: as a student, a parent, and finally as a teacher, her dream job since she was a child.

   Aside from summer breaks spent working at Belk during college, Askew has always taught. After college, she moved to Atlanta, but her brief year spent teaching in Marietta, Ga. is a dot on the timeline compared to her career in Burlington.

   When asked what her favorite memory is from the past three decades, she couldn’t pinpoint one specific moment, but said she’s loved building relationships with her co-workers:

   “Probably the best thing is that we have former students that have come back here to teach. There are probably at least five people that I taught that are teachers here now. Our faculty’s always been very close and we’ve had career teachers that have been here for a long time, so we’ve just really had a sense of community,” she said.

   As far as her relationship with students, teaching has not come without challenges.

   “As a teacher, you want all of your students to succeed, and some come to you with that willingness... but I guess the biggest challenge would be the students who come and don’t have that desire,” Askew said. “They may have that ability, but they don’t have the drive, and trying to instill that into them is hard. I’ve always said if we had a potion we could give them, we could be rich.”

   Her advice to new teachers dealing with those challenges is not to give up on them: “Always try to reach the student. Sometimes you just have to find what they’re interested in, if its sports or whatever it is they’re into, try to find something that (lets you) connect with them. They just like knowing that somebody knows something about them other than the fact that they’re in your Math II class.”

   As far as what comes next, Askew laughed and said, “I’m not real sure. I’m not sure what I want to do when I grow up.”

   “I’d like to find a part-ime job. I’m really a people-person, so I need to be around people. One of my friends who retired a couple years ago said, ‘Don’t jump into something right away. Take a little bit of time and things will find you.’ So I’m going to wait and see,” she said.

   In the meantime, she said, “I’ve got bathrooms that need to be painted and closets that need to be cleaned – things that I said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll do it later.’ Well, later has finally come.”

   Getting teary-eyed, she added, “Williams has just been a great place to work. It’s a great school and it’s got a great future, so I really look forward to seeing what’s going to happen next.”