Donna McClamroch always knew she wanted to be a teacher.
As a child, she loved playing school. When she grew into an adult, she brought that love for teaching to Eminence 34 years ago.
McClamroch graduated from Valley Station High School in Louisville — a school with an average of 400 seniors, much larger than Eminence’s graduating senior class of 33.
While doing undergrad work at Western Kentucky University, she came home with a sorority sister from Henry County and attended a local wedding.
“When I was sending out applications, I remembered Eminence and sent one here,” McClamroch said. “Mr. Edwards called for an interview. I got to come up and meet him and Mr. Baird (former superintendent). They offered me a job and Mr. Edwards found me a place to live. He was really awesome.”
But moving to Eminence was a big change.
“It was quite a culture shock. My graduating class was close to 400. Coming to Eminence was a big difference,” McClamroch said.
McClamroch recently announced she will retire before school starts at Eminence Independent Schools.
McClamroch taught high school English and Latin for 11 years. Her English teachers made an impression on her at a young age.
“I’ve always loved to read,” McClamroch said. “I believe if you read you can go anywhere you want in the world. You learn so much from reading. No matter what kind of book you read, you are going to learn something. I think I had some really strong English teachers that you just wanted to follow and want to be like. I hope kids today find a teacher that they pick out that they want to be like when they grow up.”
A lifelong learner, McClamroch has served as the EHS assistant principal for 10-years, along with, at various times, serving as athletic director, being a special education teacher, overseeing the gifted and talented and extended schools program, and directing the Warrior Activity Center.
“I try to make all the kids lifelong learners,” McClamroch said. “I think this is the first year that I haven’t been in a college class. I have more grad hours than I do undergrad hours. I have a masters in reading as reading specialist, my Rank I in special education, certificates in both principal’s level and superintendant, director of special education, masters in education administration and everything for my doctorate except my final paper. You have to go by example for the students and tell them that they can do it if it is their desire.”
McClamroch also is the sponsor for the academic league and junior and senior beta clubs.
Eminence Superintendant Buddy Berry said McClamroch will be hard to replace.
“It is very bittersweet. She is a great educator, a great person and nobody has probably logged more hours at our school than her,” Berry said. “It will take multiple people to fill her position. We are very sad to see her go and sad for Eminence.”
The decision to retire didn’t come easily for McClamroch who plans to still work in education.
“It was the time you know. It was a long year. My father-in-law passed away and my mother had a heart attack, she’s my rock. My father passed away a long time ago and I want to spend more time with people,” McClamroch said. “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. After 34 years, they (coworkers) become your family. There are eight or nine of the staff that were my students and you’ve got their kids here as students. They’ll say you have to stay one more year until my kid graduates. People can be replaced. There’s a lot of good people in this building. They will go on without missing a beat.”
McClamroch said she will miss students the most.
“I will miss the kids. I love the kids. I like kids because they are so honest,” McClamroch said. “I liked my high school kids and I never thought I would want to go to middle school but I switched to middle school for all of those years doing special education and they were so much fun. They say those are the hardest years for kids because of the transitions, but they want to learn everything and they are so excited. Everything is new to them. I think they keep you young. I think when you work with kids, no matter what age, they keep you young.”
Eminence’s small town appeal never wore off on McClamroch. The rural setting doesn’t allow just the family to remain a nucleus, but the entire community.
“I like this atmosphere better than the big city. You feel such pride with these kids and seeing what they do. The whole community raises kids here. With seniors, I manage their records and help them get their scholarships. The best thing is when they get that paper and realize that a college accepted them. They see that the hard work of studying and retaking the ACT pays off. It’s rewarding.”
Retirement will allow McClamroch to spend more time with her family and to read books. She plans to still volunteer as an EMT which McClamroch has done for eight years.
“I cannot tell you how thankful I am for this opportunity,” McClamroch said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to have done anything else, anywhere else with anyone else. Next Thursday morning (first day of school) will be weird. Ask me in a year and I will tell you how good retirement is.”