Betty Rhodes, Hartfield 2nd Grade Teacher: 50 Years and Counting
In 1967 in Columbus, Mississippi, Betty Rhodes began her first day of teaching at Brandon Elementary. A graduate of the nearby Mississippi University for Women, Betty was eager to begin investing in the lives of students. Fifty years of teaching later, her calling is the same, and Hartfield Academy is fortunate to have her among our ranks.
After two years in Columbus, Betty and her husband relocated to the Jackson, MS area, where Betty began teaching at Northside Elementary in Pearl. Betty can’t help but laugh when she reflects on the memories from those early years. When she started teaching, Betty taught the same students all day long – P.E. classes, library, and kept them engaged throughout each school day with much fewer resources than teachers use today. She also remembers certain rules that may seem unbelievable to today’s teachers, including a skirts-only dress code and hair length requirements of the 1970’s. Those who are familiar with Mrs. Rhodes’s iconic hairdo know how times sure do change!
Mrs. Rhodes has been a part of the larger Hartfield Academy family since 2005. On a field trip with her granddaughter’s K4 class at Pinelake Christian School, Betty couldn’t help but feel God stirring something up in her heart. As it turns out, He was going before her: just after the field trip, Betty was offered a 5th grade teacher position right on the spot! This would be a major step of faith in Betty’s life, as she had just achieved the milestone of National Board Certification and would be turning down a yearly stipend from the school district. However, after 34 years at Northside Elementary, she knew that God was calling her elsewhere.
As a founding faculty member of Hartfield Academy, Mrs. Rhodes has the fondest memories associated with the early years of the school. “Parents and teachers came together to paint walls and chip in wherever they could, and it was so much fun!” she shares. “Fun” is what teaching is all about for Betty – she knows that not every person gets to do something they love every day, and her students are the true benefactors of the joy she has for teaching. Beyond her daily outpouring in the classroom, Mrs. Rhodes was also responsible for creating a 5th grade curriculum in her first year at Pinelake Christian, and also put into motion several field trips that are cherished tradition to this day, such as annual Space Camp, Nissan plant, and Mustard Seed trips.
Almost 15 years later and eight years into the operation of Hartfield Academy, Betty Rhodes is excited for what lies ahead for her. “This job is every teacher’s dream,” she says, describing the Christian atmosphere, sweet students, and strong community of teachers at Hartfield. She also stresses the importance of teaching the “whole child” – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically – and to her, Hartfield Academy is the ideal place to do just that. The entire faculty and staff are fortunate to know Mrs. Betty Rhodes, and we’re grateful to have her continue to bless our school community.
Hartfield Academy is fully accredited by both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the MidSouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Southern Association of independent Schools (SAIS).