Kinsaul retires from teaching after 38-year career in education

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, July 13, 2022

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Jan Kinsaul knew God placed her on the right path when she made an impact on students’ young lives for 38 years and retired at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year.

“I taught 38 years overall and subbed a few years before I got my first job. My first full teaching position was at W.S. Harlan Elementary School for the 1984-1985 school year. I was a first grade teacher’s aide at Florala City School before being hired at W.S. Harlan. I taught third, fourth, and fifth grade English and science for about five years and self-contained for two years. I was transferred to Straughn Elementary School for the 1991-1992 school year with some of my first years self-contained. However, I eventually started teaching fifth and sixth grade math. When the middle school and elementary became separate schools, I continued teaching fifth grade math until my retirement,” Kinsaul said.

Her last day at SES was Thursday, May 26. “I was given a very sweet and special retirement party by my coworkers on that day. I decided to retire after my husband Benjie had been retired for a year. It was just time after 38 years.”

Kinsaul added that she was grateful for several things throughout her teaching career.

“I enjoyed my coworkers and the sweet friendships that were forged over the years. I loved the children and being a part of their lives. The children are with their teachers as much as they are with their families during school. I loved to see the ‘light’ come on in their eyes when they finally grasped a skill. I’m sure I will miss those same things I enjoyed the most, especially seeing my coworkers and students each day.”

She feels teachers and students are more relaxed now than when she first started teaching.

“The teachers and students are pushed so hard now to do more and more. Students barely knew what a computer was when I first started teaching. Now, nearly every child has complete access to technology, which has its pros and cons.”

In addition to teaching math, Kinsaul shared her love for the Lord with her students daily.

“I don’t think I thought about being a role model to the children, but I have always expressed my love and trust in Jesus as my Savior to my students. Early on, I realized God placed me with these children to share His love with them as well as to teach academics,” she said.

She plans to do part-time contract work with Covington County Schools during her retirement. “I guess I’m just easing into retirement. I also hope to travel and be ‘on call’ for my family when they need me, especially for my granddaughters, Harper Kate and Stella.”

According to Kinsaul, math was her favorite subject to teach. “I enjoyed teaching math more than any other subject. It is not subjective. You have one answer only. However, there may be multiple ways to get that one answer. I always wanted my students to choose the way which they understood and liked the best.”

She said that she learned from many master teachers in her career.

“For 13 years, I taught next door to Joann Geohagan who taught for 43 years in public schools. She just took me under her wings at W.S. Harlan and never seemed too busy to help me and give me guidance.”

Kinsaul offered some heartfelt advice for someone entering education for the first time.

“I would tell a new teacher to go ahead and make plans financially for your future retirement. It gets here quickly. Also, listen and ask questions. You’ll never know if you don’t ask. I’ve been telling younger teachers to keep the names and numbers of the students they teach over the next 20 to 30 years. It is amazing how many students you will teach.”

She and her husband Benjie Kinsaul will celebrate their 42nd anniversary on August 9. They have one daughter, Kayla (Jeff) Gorum, and two sons, Hunter and Rollin Kinsaul as well as two granddaughters: Harper Kate and Stella Gorum.

“Jan Kinsaul’s passion, dedication, and love for teaching and learning were contagious as well as her smile, laugh, and enthusiasm. She mentored many new teachers and shared her love and wisdom of teaching with them over the years. Ms. Kinsaul’s long-term impact on the thousands of students she taught during her teaching career will be felt and realized for generations to come. Her school spirit is second to none; she was always the biggest fan of Straughn, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Auburn University, and the Straughn community. As a vocal artist, Ms. Kinsaul recorded the Straughn High School alma mater that is played over the intercom every Friday morning at Straughn Elementary School. Her school spirit will be felt and heard for years to come,” SES Principal Bettye Anne Older said.