THE FINAL BELL RINGS: Pugh, Chavers retire from teaching after 74 combined years

Published 11:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2023

After 74 combined years in the classroom, Ann Pugh and Dianne Chavers retired from teaching third grade for Andalusia Elementary School at the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

Pugh finished with 38 years in education and taught first, second, and third grades. She taught a year at Flatwoods Elementary School in Tuscaloosa and 15 years at Church Street Elementary School before completing 22 years at AES. Chavers completed 36 years of service in second, third, and fifth grade and spent her entire career, including an internship, at East Three Notch Elementary School and AES.

“I decided to retire this year because, after 36 years, it’s time. I have three grandsons and am ready to spend time with them,” Chavers said. “I prayed about it and will have a third grandchild coming in August,” Pugh added.

Both agreed their students were the reason for their longtime tenures as educators.

“It was always the children and watching them grow in learning. I will miss teaching them, being around the faculty, and trying to learn new technology,” Pugh said.

“The thing I enjoyed most about teaching was the hundreds of children that have impacted my life. I learned a lot more from them than they learned from me. I will miss the children and the camaraderie of being with my co-workers. I will also miss being a part of the Andalusia City Schools family,” Chavers stated.

Although teaching has evolved over the years, they both felt the biggest thing they had to adapt to was technology.

“There is too much to share from my first year until my last year. Teaching time, academic expectations, and technology are just a few things,” Pugh said.

“So much has changed in the education system in the past 36 years with the introduction of technology. The state testing has become much more demanding for both teachers and students,” Chavers said.

Chavers knew she wanted to be a teacher and serve as a role model to young children when she was a young child.

“I thought my third-grade teacher hung the moon. From then on, I wanted to be just like her. Children need positive role models and support from adults. I always wanted to be that adult,” she said.

Pugh first realized education was for her while helping with her church’s VBS program.

“I knew from helping with Vacation Bible School while I was in the seventh grade that I loved working with children and helping them. I felt it was why God put me on this Earth,” she stated.

As far as their retirement plans go, the two are looking to relax and stay active.

“My daughter just had my third grandson, so I plan to help with him. I love to garden and work in the yard, so that’s also at the top of my list. Going to the beach and spending time with my mother are also priorities,” Chavers said. “In retirement, I plan to rest, help at church, go on trips with family friends, and play with all my grandchildren,” Pugh added.

The subject they enjoyed the most over the years was math.

“I definitely enjoyed math. Growing up, my dad always helped me with algebra and trigonometry. I learned to love math, and I think of my dad,” Pugh said.

“I enjoyed teaching reading and math. My favorite time of the day was small-group time. That’s where the magic happened,” Chavers stated.

They offered heartfelt advice to anyone who chooses to pursue the educational field.

“Take it one day at a time. Every day is not a good day, but there’s something good in every day. If you mess up, there’s always tomorrow to try again. If you are a beginning teacher, find yourself a mentor teacher and learn from them,” Chavers said.

“Love those students, but remember they do need boundaries, and you need to have clear expectations. Teaching is not for the faint of heart. You will be exhausted each and every day, but watching children learn and reach a goal will be your reward,” Pugh said.

Both expressed their gratitude to those involved throughout their illustrious careers.

“I have been blessed to work with some of the finest teachers. I learned so much more from veteran teachers than I did in college. I would like to mention Mary Louise Jones, who was my mentor the first year I taught third grade. Cathy Harry and Karen Scott also had a huge impact on my teaching career. There are so many more, but I would definitely like to mention Beth Weed and my entire third-grade teaching team for being the most amazing group of teachers to have worked with in the past 20 years I have been in third grade. Thank you to the ACS Board of Education for your unwavering support over the last 36 years and Dr. Daniel Shakespeare, Mrs. Brenda Johnson, and all other administration for your support and love in these last few excellent years of my teaching career,” Chavers said. “I appreciate all my co-workers and administrators over the years,” Pugh added.

Pugh is the mother of Mitch (Kathleen) and Megan Pugh. She currently has two grandsons: Luke and Graham with a third grandson due in August.

Chavers is married to her husband, Mark, of nearly 38 years. They are the parents of Zack Chavers and Erin (Rob) Maddox and grandparents to Ryan, Rex, and Eli Maddox.

Third-grade teacher Beth Weed stated her two colleagues would be greatly missed.

“I am not sure what we will do without them. They have an incredible range of talents between them. They have loved and guided so many of the children in our area and will certainly leave a legacy. The impact they have had on our community is priceless,” Weed said.

Brenda Johnson, who served as principal at AES for the last few years, was thankful for Pugh and Chavers’ commitment to education.

“We are so thankful for these educators and their lifelong commitment to education. We value the lasting memories they have created for our children at Andalusia Elementary School. As Walt Disney once said, ‘It’s not the days in life we remember, it’s the moments.’ Mrs. Pugh and Mrs. Chavers throughout their tenure in the classroom have certainly created magical moments for the children at Andalusia Elementary School. We will miss both of you dearly and wish you each a happy retirement,” Johnson said.