Like a family: Retired Jackson Academy teachers continue to gather monthly to keep up with each other

“It’s like a family.”

This is how retired faculty and staff members Carol Branning and Barbara Nations look back on their years working at Jackson Academy.

They retired in 2013 and 2016, respectively. Now, they, along with several other members of the faculty and staff who have worked together over the years, make time each month to get together and share memories and updates on their lives over a meal.

Branning, a Jackson native, taught elementary physical education and junior high social studies at Jackson Academy from 1982 to 2013.

For approximately 20 years, she took her eighth-grade social studies class to Washington D.C. for a trip, which is still an annual trip students take.

Barbara Nations, also from Jackson, went to Commercial College for a year for secretarial science and worked for a while as a secretary before taking a job working with pre-school students at Jackson Academy.

She worked in that role for 16 years, before taking a position in the junior high office. She later took a secretary role in the high school office.

After 36 years with Jackson Academy, Nations retired in 2016.

“It was a wonderful place that I love,” Nations said.

“We loved it. it couldn’t have been any better,” Branning added. “It’s like a family.”

However, after both of them retired from Jackson Academy, they found themselves missing their coworkers and the bond they shared while working together.

So, Nations proposed the idea of getting a group of teachers, both retired and still working, together once a month to keep up with what is going on in their lives.

“We’ve been doing it since we retired,” Nations said.

Each month, they toss around ideas of where they would like to eat next to catch up and decide on a day that the majority of them can make it.

Since some of the teachers that come still work half days, they always meet at 12:30 p.m. They also try to meet somewhere new each month all over the Jackson Metro.

“She greeted me every morning,” Branning said of Nations. “You do miss that, when you think about the people that you taught will.”

Several of the women have worked together for more than 20 years.

Branning’s husband, Keith Branning, was the high school dean from 1982 to 2014. She said he sometimes joins them for lunch because he misses “his ladies.”

Branning said now the group chats are typically centered around their children and catching up on their lives. They have become a close support system for each other over the years.

Jackson Academy faculty and staff who meet each month for lunch to catch up are Branning, Nations, Judy Arnold, Dee Ball, Kate Bowman, Georgia Brown, Sophia Cox, Sandra Dyess, Gloria Hirn, Debbie Hrom, Anne Keenan, Jean King, Jane Lee, Judy McKeigney, Julie Murray and Pat Street.

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