PITSBURG — After decades as a teacher and counselor for Franklin-Monroe School District, Jim Gish is hanging up his hat.
“For 44-1/2 years it has been a love affair between a man and a school district, ” he said.
One February day, in 1970, Gish drove up to Franklin-Monroe to teach English and social studies. That year, the U.S. President was Richard Nixon, four students were killed at Kent State University during an anti-war rally and Paul McCartney announced that he was leaving the Beatles. During the worldly turmoil, Gish brought a steady calm to the community, teaching English and Social studies for 28 years. He quit to attend law school for two years and returned as school counselor, in 1998.
In addition, Gish taught about 17 years as an Adjunct Instructor of Psychology at Edison Community College, and began teaching Psychology at the high school for the College Credit Plus Program. While most people might relish their retirement, Gish has no plans of slowing down. He turns 70 this summer.
“I can’t imagine getting up in the morning without having a job to go to,” he said. “I wouldn’t know what to do.”
In fact, he will continue teaching Psychology classes at the high school. According to Franklin-Monroe Superintendent Jeff Patrick the district is hiring Gish back as a half-time teacher next year.
“Jim’s dedication, his professionalism and overall ethic and values for the community and students have been unprecedented,” Patrick said. “I think the years of service can speak for that. He is probably in third generations of people who have come through the school system.”
Franklin-Monroe Middle/High School Principal PJ Burgett said everybody loves Mr. Gish.
“As soon as you meet him, you feel like you have known him your whole life,” Burgett said. “He has a way of making you feel better.”
Gish also enjoys writing, influenced by the southern literary style of authors, such as William Faulkner. His success in that endeavor is shown in about 40 published short stories in literary magazines, winning top prizes for some. He also speaks at writing conferences.
“It is so obvious, no matter how long you know me, that I am a Kentucky farm boy – that is what I am,” he said. “I just happen to have a gift for teaching and writing. There are so many things I cannot do at all – but to have those two fortuitous gifts is pretty much my salvation. There is no reason in the world that I am a writer. My parents both had eighth – grade educations, I grew up in a house without electricity until I was 5, and without television until I was 10. I assume it is some sort of divine intervention, because nothing else makes any sense to me.”
As Counselor, Gish is often in a position to lift up the students. He tells them that so much of their lives is about the way they think.
“My dad used to say, ‘If you lay down with dogs, you’re going to get fleas’,” he said. “I try to encourage students to hang out with and find positive friends and to get involved with school activities. I think the more contacts you have, the more sociability you have, the more emotional intelligence you have, which is something I talk about all the time. The ability to get along with others, easily, is probably the number one key to your success in life.”
Gish shared some simple advice for educators.
“If you don’t like the kids, they know it,” he said. “If you don’t like them, you can’t teach them. You can force them into all the drills, but in the back of their minds, they know. I really did like the kids and I think most of them and their parents liked me.”
Jim Gish’s daughters have planned a Retirement Open House Saturday, May 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Franklin – Monroe cafeteria. The community is invited to celebrate Gish’s many years of dedicated service and teaching.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.