MEDORA

From the moment she started teaching at Medora Community Schools, Loris Hubbard said she felt welcomed.

The staff always collaborated well, and she developed a good rapport with the students.

She was offered a job at a couple of other schools, but she found the perfect fit at Medora.

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“You feel welcomed here, you feel like you have a purpose here, you feel like you’re needed, that you’re loved,” she said. “I just felt like this is where I was needed, where God sent me and where I needed to be.”

Three years ago, she announced she was going to retire when she turned 62.

Even though some tried to talk her out of it or thought she was kidding, reality set in at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year that it was her last at the small southwestern Jackson County school.

She turned 62 in November and recently wrapped up her 32-year career.

“There again, I listened to my heart, and that’s the age that I had set,” Hubbard said. “I feel that I made the right choice. I’m happy with this year. I’m ready to move on to that next stage in my life.”

Hubbard spent her elementary school years in Florida but returned to her hometown of Seymour when she was in sixth grade.

At an early age, she said she developed an interest in working in education.

“I cannot remember ever not wanting to teach,” she said. “I remember when I was 5 or 6 years old, I wanted to be a teacher. That is what I’ve always wanted to do.”

When she was a junior at Seymour High School, she briefly thought about becoming a stewardess because that was a popular profession in the 1970s.

There, however, were two reasons she didn’t follow that path.

“No. 1, I have a fear of flying, and No. 2, I’m too short,” she said, laughing. “There was a time that you had to be tall enough to reach into the overstorage. I was too short.”

After graduating from high school in 1973, Hubbard was set on becoming a high school math teacher, but since there was an overflow of math teachers and a shortage of elementary teachers at the time, her father encouraged her to switch tracks.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Hanover College in 1977 and her master’s degree through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Out of college, she decided to work a couple of years for the Indiana Telephone Co. in Seymour as a long-distance operator.

In the meantime, she married, and her husband encouraged her to get back into education.

From 1979 to 1985, she was a substitute teacher at Brownstown and Seymour schools.

At one time, she spent six weeks teaching art at Seymour Middle School to cover a teacher’s medical leave.

“I can’t draw a straight line, but they needed somebody. They couldn’t find a sub, so I took it,” she said. “The kids were great. They really helped me through it. They felt sorry for me because my drawing was little stick figures, but we did some cool stuff. They had a dance during that time, and they wanted the art department to do the backdrops, so that was kind of fun to get to plan and do.”

When she subbed for the music teacher at Brownstown Central High School, Hubbard said she was more in her element because she had a background in that subject.

“The first day I walked in, they were practicing some songs, and they were singing all of the wrong notes,” she said. “I stopped them and said, ‘OK, let me explain to you that I can read music, I know music and you guys are not singing what you are supposed to be,’ so it was kind of like they were busted. After that, whenever I subbed in there, they were really good for me.”

Subbing for all grade levels and a variety of subjects, Hubbard said that helped her determine she would like to teach at the elementary level.

She learned of a third-grade teaching vacancy at Medora and applied. A couple of people put in a good word for her, and she landed the job.

At first, she said having her own class was an adjustment because she didn’t know any of the students and she had to do all of her own lesson plans.

Fortunately, first-grade teachers Sherry Wayman and Ruth Beesley and second-grade teacher Keyla Weddel helped her with anything she needed.

“They were so helpful to me,” Hubbard said. “They all took me under their wing, and they helped me get through that first year.”

She taught third grade for three years before spending 14 years teaching fourth grade and then 14 years in fifth grade.

This school year was her only year teaching sixth grade. First and second grades were combined, and that left an opening in sixth grade, so she took it.

That resulted in a unique situation, as Hubbard taught the same group of kids for two years in a row. She even taught math to some of them when they were fourth-graders.

“You know their abilities, you know their weaknesses and such, so you can continue to build on that. Plus, they can’t do the ‘Oh, we didn’t learn that last year,’” she said, laughing.

Hubbard said it has been rewarding seeing students go on to graduate from high school and move on in life.

“This is a very close-knit community, and you get to know not just the kids, you get to know their families,” she said. “You see them on the street, you know all of them, you know the background that the kids are coming from, you know their situation and everything else, so you almost feel like you’re a part of their life. … These are people that you’ve known for years, and it’s just like being a big family.”

When it came time to retire, she said it was tough leaving the students and staff.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘Are you second-guessing?’ and I said, ‘No. I’m actually at peace with it,’” she said.

“It’s kind of like when Peyton Manning decided to retire, I don’t think he regretted it, I don’t think he felt like, ‘Oh, I wish I could go back’ like Brett Favre did several times,” she said. “I think he was at the point where he thought it was the best thing in his life to do, and I feel that way, too. It’s a good time in my life to do it. I’ve enjoyed the years that I have done this. I hope to think that I have made a difference in some kids’ lives. I want to leave on that good note.”

This summer, she will still be at the school helping with the summer lunch program, planning the menu, cooking and serving like she has the past several years.

She also plans to spend more time with her husband, Greg Hubbard, seven children and 16 grandchildren. All but two of her children and six grandchildren live in Jackson County.

This fall, she and her husband will be taking a train trip to the Grand Canyon, which fulfills two of her longtime goals.

Hubbard also has ridden motorcycles since she was 19, so she will have more time for that, too.

“My husband doesn’t ride, but several of my sons do, so sometimes, I’ll go riding with one of my sons,” she said.

Retirement also will give her more time to read, sew and watch her favorite football team, the Indianapolis Colts.

“I will get to actually sit down and watch ‘Sunday Night Football’ and not have to worry about ‘I have a stack of papers to grade’ or ‘I have to get my lesson plans done,’” she said. “I look forward to that.”

Hubbard file

Name: Loris Hubbard

Age: 62

Hometown: Seymour

Residence: Seymour

Education: Seymour High School (1973); Hanover College (bachelor’s degree in elementary education, 1977); Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (master’s degree in elementary education)

Occupation: Recently retired after teaching for 32 years at Medora Community Schools

Family: Husband, Greg Hubbard; seven children; 16 grandchildren

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.