A tough decision to retire was made a little sweeter for a local teacher.

A tough decision to retire was made a little sweeter for a local teacher.

After a collaborative 42 years of teaching in the Carthage R-9 School District, Barb Graue plans to retire next month. She said it was a hard decision, but this year just seemed impossible to beat since her cadet teacher was her granddaughter, Ashley Fancher.

“I wanted to go out while I still loved it,” Barb said. “And I do. It was a hard decision to make. I've been teaching for two-thirds of my life, but it just seems right. It's all come full circle.”

A teacher's life circle, you might say. After educating and inspiring young minds for 42 years in a town she grew up in – one she's most proud of is her “Ash.”

“I'm so thankful I had this special time with her before she ventures out and leaves the nest,” Barb said. “It's been the icing on the cake for us … I'm proud of her. I'm hoping I had some influence on her, and expressed my love for teaching. I've always loved it, and I think she got that. I'm excited she wants to be a teacher.”

As a Carthage High School senior, Ashley has spent the past school year splitting her week with her grandmother's fifth and sixth grade class at St. Ann's, and Heather Woodall's sixth grade class at the Carthage Middle School. It hasn't been her first classroom experience, however. Ever since she moved with her family from Murfreesboro, Tenn., at the end of her fifth grade year, she has helped Barb after school and during summer school whenever she could.

“I like being around kids,” Ashley said. “I've always wanted to be a teacher. It's been fun. I've been watching (Barb) teach – get ideas on how I want to teach and interact with the kids.”

Ashley said this year she has learned she enjoys the fifth and sixth grade level teaching, and what it takes to be a good teacher.

“Patience, hard work … knowledge,” Ashley thought aloud, with Barb at her side.
“Have fun,” Barb added. “And a lot of patience.”

“Yeah, patience,” Ashley said with a laugh, “did we mention patience?”

It's been a good year, and a good career for Barb. She taught at the Carthage Junior High School for many years, and hopes to return to that age level again after retiring. She plans on substitute teaching (because “you just can't completely quit”) and spend time with her family – including six grandchildren who are between the ages of 10 months and 18 years old.

Barb started teaching first grade at St. Ann's six years ago, then moved to the fifth and grade grade the following year. Happily, she is leaving this year at the same time as those students she had in her first classroom are moving up the junior high.

Ashley was a three-year letterman in soccer, and a wrestling manger. But she always made time for family and friends. She is a proud, big sister to Olivia, 15, and Ivy, 10. Ashley plans to attend Crowder, and finish her education with Pittsburg State University and substitute.
She says the goal is to come back and teach in Carthage.