Longtime educator Hargett retires
For nearly 40 years, Dr. Susan Hargett has served as an educator in Franklin County where she’s passionately worked to make learning a better and more enjoyable experience not only for the county’s youth but for adults as well.
Even though Hargett officially retired on Nov. 1, she said she would never really stop working to better the community she lives in.
Hargett first started teaching in August of 1973 and taught in several capacities over the years including a special education teacher of both slow learners and gifted learners and a teacher of journalism and psychology as well as a part-time sociology instructor at Northwest-Shoals Community College.
In 1985, Hargett became the vocational counselor at the Franklin County Career Technical Center – a position she maintained until she became the Community Education coordinator in 2001, which she held until her retirement.
Hargett said she first began her career in education because it was something she loved.
“I’ve always had a passion for making the world a better place, especially for children,” she said.
“Being an educator is a great way to make a difference in a person’s life and make their lives just a little bit better than before.”
Having such a passion, Hargett definitely found her niche at Community Education where she wrote and applied for grants that would benefit a myriad of programs and areas such as the Imagination Library that provides free books to children; literacy classes for all ages; graduation exam training; welding equipment for the career technical school; distance learning materials; prevention programs for tobacco use, pregnancy, child abuse and other areas; literacy grants for $100,000 worth of books placed in local schools; professional development training for teachers; curriculum work; the Jobs for Alabama Graduates (JAG) program; and partnerships with NW-SCC for GED classes and instructors for the career technical school.
Hargett said she was also proud the county was able to acquire the T.R.A.C.K.S. afterschool and summer programs in 2001 through a grant because it has provided over a decade of assistance for students in both the Russellville and Franklin County school systems.
“When we were calculating figures, we determined we have been able to bring around $20 million dollars into Franklin County through grants and other funding since 2001,” Hargett said.
“In that same timeframe, we’ve seen certain detrimental statistics for our youth drop and I’d like to think that we’ve played a small role in that and in improving people’s lives during that time.”
Even though Hargett writes and applies for the grant money that has funded many of these helpful programs in the county, she is quick to defer any credit to the staff at Community Education.
“I may write these grants, but the most important part is how the programs are implemented and how the money is used,” Hargett said. “I have had a terrific staff that has done a wonderful job implementing these different programs and we couldn’t do any of the good we’ve done without that.”
She also said the cooperation of community members and school officials is important to what they do at Community Education.
“We’ve been fortunate to work with some great superintendents, principals and community member who have embraced the changes we’ve needed to make in order to receive some grants or to implement others,” she said.
“Change isn’t always an easy thing but it is necessary in education if you want to move forward and improve.”
Being so passionate about what she does and being involved in so many different programs and initiatives that help others in the community, making the decision to retire wasn’t an easy one for Hargett but one she said was necessary.
“Many people are facing the same dilemma of having to retire before they’re really ready because it makes better financial sense given the circumstances to do so,” she said. “That was really what it boiled down to for me because I wasn’t ready to step aside, but I’ll still be helping out for awhile to help make the transition.”
Hargett said for now, she still works two days a week – something she said she’d do for as long as she was needed.
“There are still some loose ends and some grants that I need to see through to completion, so I’m not completely gone yet,” she said. “But even when that time comes, I have a feeling I will still find some way to help out in my community and make positive changes.”
In honor of all the work she has done for the county over her career, Hargett’s co-workers and friends will be hosting a retirement reception in her honor on Sunday, Jan. 13, from 2-3:30 p.m. at the A.W. Todd Centre in downtown Russellville.
Everyone in the community is invited to attend.