Meeting in the Middle

Betty Nutt_bw

By Jessica Mercer,

Contributing Writer

I walk into Hardee’s restaurant with my notebook and pen in hand. A few customers linger in the restaurant lobby, but the place is mostly vacant. I take a seat at a booth in the corner, and I watch the door, waiting for Betty Nutt to arrive.Within a couple of minutes, I see her walk in. I immediately get up from my seat and greet her. She says her salutations, and much to my surprise, she hands me a baggie of banana bread that she had made for me. We take a seat at a booth, and she begins to tell me about her teaching experience and her life.

Betty grew up on a farm in Lynchburg, Tennessee. With over one hundred acres, there was lots of work to be done on the farm. Betty helped with the farm chores which taught her skills, like how to make milk and butter. After Betty grew up, she went to college at MTSU. She studied tirelessly and took summer classes. She was able to graduate from MTSU in three years instead of the typical four.

After graduating from college, Betty began teaching. She taught home economics, or as she refers to it, “Survival Living.” Everyday, she would teach her students skills they would need in life. She had a variety of lessons that covered everything from cooking, budgeting, sewing, and even funeral planning.

I asked Betty how she felt about home economics no longer being available at Lewis County High School, and she said, “It bothers me because those are skills that you need throughout your lifetime. Home economics teaches people to be independent and to take care of themselves.”

Betty said that she enjoyed teaching, but at times it was very challenging. She discussed how it’s difficult to try to teach to every student because everyone learns differently, and teachers have to follow state standards and rules that are sometimes impractical. She also made the point that parents don’t often support the teachers.

I concluded the interview by asking Betty if she had any advice for people my age. She told me,” Study hard because you don’t think it will help, but it will later on in life. Volunteer your work. Don’t think “What’s in it for me?”

My interview with Betty was very insightful. It made me wish that our present day school system would offer more classes that taught skills that could be applied in everyday life. I think many people my age, myself included, could greatly benefit from a home economics class. My interview with Betty also confirmed a belief that I’ve had for years: Teaching the country’s next generation is an important and challenging job, yet our teachers are often underpaid, underrated, and underappreciated. If we truly value education, we must first value our educators.

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