Local teacher retires after 35 years

Life-long Columbiana resident Dell Moody spent most of her childhood resisting becoming a teacher. She spent her entire adulthood loving it.

Moody, who recently retired after 35 years, began teaching English at Shelby County High School in 1972.

In 2000, she moved to the School of Technology as the director of its Success program.

&8220;My goodness I&8217;ve been going to school for something like 54 years,&8221; Moody said. The half-century commitment is not one she had planned.

&8220;My mother had always pushed me toward teaching. She thought it was a wonderful profession,&8221; Moody said. &8220;I said, &8216;Absolutely not. I will not teach school.&8217;&8221;

Her refusal lasted only until her senior year at Shelby County High School when she took English from Laura Horn, a teacher whom Moody still deeply admires. &8220;The way she used the literature and the writing and the vocabulary&8212;everything worked as one,&8221; Moody said. &8220;That was it.&8221;

The next fall, Moody entered Montevallo to become an English teacher. &8220;I never changed my major, never veered course,&8221; she said. &8220;Here it is 35 years later, and I figured up I&8217;ve taught more than 5,000 students. I&8217;ve been on the second generation of students for many years.&8221;

Teaching forever in the same small town&8212;and having an excellent memory&8212;has its upsides, she said. &8220;When I taught the second generation, they&8217;d come in, and I&8217;d say, &8216;Hello. I taught your mom and dad. Your dad was in third period and he sat right over there. Your mom sat right over there.&8217;&8221;

She also enjoys pulling out parents&8217; phone numbers, test grades (down to the decimal point) and other good-to-know information on the spot. &8220;Every year [during the summer], I studied the yearbook, and on the first day of school, I called every child by name.&8221;

She enjoyed seeing the looks on their faces, but more importantly, &8220;it really set us off to a good year,&8221; Moody said. &8220;I always wanted to be personable. I wanted to welcome them into my classroom.&8221;

The vibrant teacher remembers being one of the first in the school to decorate with paint and curtains. Each month, she would change out pictures borrowed from the public library.

&8220;Teaching is never an 8-to-3 job,&8221; Moody said, adding, &8220;Sunday was my planning day. I planned in the floor. I&8217;m the kind of person that plans things in the floor.&8221;

The highly organized teacher also loves grammar–she started teaching her son about semi-colons when he was only 5 years old&8212;and &8220;building relationships with students outside the classroom.&8221;

Even now that she&8217;s retired, students call or drop by Moody&8217;s house. &8220;I love that. That&8217;s what my life&8217;s been for 35 years,&8221; she said.

Still, she&8217;s ready to move on, saying she&8217;ll enjoy the extra time to read and travel with her husband, Freddie, who owns a trucking firm. &8220;Anytime he heads south, I&8217;m in the truck,&8221; says the beach lover.

During her career, Moody has received several recognitions, including Student Choice Teacher of the Year at SCHS and Teacher of the Year for both Shelby County and the School of Technology. Currently, she is among five finalists for the Jacksonville State Teacher Hall of Fame. Inductees will be announced May 25