Ellen Kendrick, visual arts teacher at Fort Scott High School for 34 years, is retiring.
When Kendrick was in college, she took a couple of education classes out of curiosity.
“Through these classes, I came to realize that much of my childhood frustration with my own education was with the manner in which it was disseminated,” she said. ” I made a promise to myself that if I ever had the chance, I would invest in my community by being the teacher that I wish I had. I believe I was personally suited to the profession of teaching because I came of age in an era when professions weren’t chosen for the amount of money they made, but for the good that they put back into communities. I believe in the power of education and in the children that I have been given the opportunity to teach throughout my career.”
Several people inspired her to teach.
“My mom taught for 25 years and was passionate about what she did,” Kendrick said. ” I also had an amazing eighth-grade teacher, his name was Paul McClain. He was a caring and compassionate person who came into my life and taught me what a good teacher looks like. I will always be grateful for that year. Not least was Fred Campbell who saw something in me, made this job possible, and hired me to do what I love, which is to teach photography and art. I will always be grateful for the opportunity that he gave me.”
Kendrick said the greatest part of teaching is the students.
The greatest challenge has always been dealing with different personalities and varying levels of support for the things that she thought her students needed, she said.
“I would say, however, the biggest challenge has been the last month, (school closure because of the pandemic),” she said. “It is a strange way to end a career, and I mourn the loss of the last month.”
Kendrick has been involved with her husband, John, in the Echoes of the Trail, a cowboy poetry gathering and also encouraged her students and sons to be involved in the community, she said.
Retiring was a hard decision to make, she said. “Because it is a career where you get to start over fresh every year. For the first time in thirty years, I really like the direction of where things are going, but I could end up being 85 and still teaching. I made the decision, and I’m going to do it.”
Kendrick earned a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Ceramics from Colorado State University, graduate hours from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY, Master of Arts in Photography from Pittsburg State University.
Her hometown is Kansas City, MO, where she graduated from Winnetonka High School.