French teacher Mary Blackhurst retiring at Johnsburg Central

Johnsburg Central School French teacher Mary Blackhurst

Johnsburg Central School French teacher Mary Blackhurst

— Everyone retires eventually from their careers, and this year, Mary Blackhurst, longtime French teacher at Johnsburg Central School, is leaving. She announced her retirement as of June 2012.

Graduating from Clemson University in South Carolina, she earned degrees in teaching French for grades 6-12, and is certified in English 7-12 and nursery school through grade 6. Having taught since 1972, Blackhurst is reluctant to leave the familiar halls of JCS, but has a sense of relief about her retirement. She says she feels “…very mixed emotions. I’ve enjoyed teaching and the students. It’s been my passion in life.”

Living in North River and working at JCS for 25 years, she says she decided to work at JCS because “it was close to home.” Blackhurst wanted to teach because “at the time, I had a strong interest in the French language and teaching it. I’ve been able to share my passion. I have also taught English. I used French to teach my students English grammar. I chose French because I enjoyed working with the students multiple years and seeing that growth.”

Blackhurst stated her favorite moments in her teaching career are “…all the trips taken, or when a student catches on to something. …When a student gets a 100 on the Regents, and when you hear back from students who have graduated and they’ve reached out, they let you know the positive impact you have had on them.”

She also enjoys the week before Christmas break when the French Club visits classrooms to sing carols.

As for Blackhurst’s thoughts on retirement: “You have more flexibility that you didn’t have before. It’s a time to explore other interests, time to dedicate to my family. I’d like to stay involved in education.”

When asked what she will miss most about JCS, she replied, “I will miss teaching, and watching the students learn …watching their progress and their accomplishments. I will miss being able to watch their education growth. I will miss watching students work to master the language. I will miss traveling with students, because that was always exciting, whether to Montreal or to Europe.”

If given the choice to go back and alter her career choice, Blackhurst said she wouldn’t make a change. Teaching, she said, “was where I belonged.”

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