End of a Career

Tim Herndon

This was not the type of retirement Tim Herndon was expecting.

After 33 years of teaching Science at Vidalia High, Herndon is retiring.

Well, planning on retiring. He still has to get his paperwork in when the state office in Baton Rouge re-opens.

Schools have been shut down for the past month because of the coronavirus and will not re-open this school year.

"What a thing to remember," Herndon said. "I really don't get to finish what I started. I was preparing to get the kids ready for the end of the year."

Vidalia High Principal Bernie Cooley said it will be next to impossible to replace someone like Herndon.

"Our kids love him," Cooley said. "He has been such a positive influence and is so energetic. Anything you needed, he will get it done."

Herndon said another sad part about the virus is being unable to tell his fellow teachers goodbye and wish his 17 seniors good luck.

"It was so abrupt," Herndon said. "First it was going to be two weeks, then two months, and now this. I hate I was not able to say goodbye to all my teacher friends. Sure, I will see some again, but not in this situation. And I could not wish my seniors good luck going out into the world."

Herndon has been spending more time with his second job -- a crop consultant for Cecil Parker.

"I'm riding around in my truck for about 12 hours a day checking fields thinking I should be at the school," Herndon said.

Herndon attended Mount Olive High in Mississippi most of his life. His senior year was spent at South Jones High in Ellisville, Ms., where he graduated.

Herndon attended Ole Miss. While at Ole Miss, his parents moved to Natchez where his dad was ministering at a church.

Herndon started out as a substitute teacher at North Natchez and then taught at McLaurin Elementary in Natchez.

Herndon applied for jobs in north Mississippi, and also for a chemistry teacher job at Vidalia High.

"That was really the only good, solid offer I received," Herndon said. "I was certified in Chemistry."

Herndon started teaching at Vidalia High in 1987. He did not plan on that being a long-term job.

"I was all prepared to fill out a teaching license for a school in the Florida panhandle so I could spend my summers hanging out at the beach," Herndon said. 

Herndon became a quick favorite of Vidalia High students, and very respected as a teacher.

He was the 2009 Vidalia Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year, and was also named Teacher of the Year by Wal-Mart, receiving a $1,000 award to spend on class supplies that he used for his biology classes.

"I certainly have no regrets or complaints," Herndon said. "It has been a great run. I have been able to work with so many great teachers."

Herndon also was an assistant football coach at Vidalia High for 11 years and was a coach for the Vidalia High baseball team for 19 years, including one year as a head coach.

"I have been part of a lot of great stuff and been around a lot of great people," he said. "I've worked with a lot of fantastic players and parents. A lot of my former players have ended up being my best friends. And, of course, I was blessed to coach along a Hall of Fame coach in Dee Faircloth, who made it all fun, and alongside Johnny Lee Hoffpauir, who was such a great coach."

Herndon, who will be 57 this summer, said it really hasn't sunk in that his teaching career has come to an end. He thinks about what it will be like in August.

"It will be very strange," he said. "I have a routine down for the past 30-something years. I know it's going to be weird and I'm not sure how I will handle it. I am excited about doing something different."

Tim has been married to wife Donna for 21 years this June. He will also be able to spend more time with his two step-daughters and he and Donna's three grandchildren.

Obviously, Herndon was part of a lot of changes in the classroom through the year.

"It seems like every few years something would totally change," he said. "Sometimes it would make it more difficult to get through to the kids. It made it challenging."

Herndon's strength has always been relating to his students.

"There are different ways to approach your students," he said. "It's tough sometimes dealing with teenagers. You have to earn their trust to get them to where you want them to be. I was able to relate to most of my students and find common ground."

Herndon said standardized testing and the strictness on the strictness on curriculums made teaching more challenging.

"I understand what they were trying to do, but in a lot of ways it took away some of the things I was trying to do," he said. "And there was a lot of pressure getting kids ready for tests. All students do not need to be taking the same tests. Every student is different and they all have different goals."

Herndon said it would probably hit him in August that he will not be going back to Vidalia High.

"But that's the good thing about having another job," he said. "I will stay busy with it. I'm not the type of guy who just likes sitting around not doing anything."

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