Dooly County Educator and “Mom to All” to Retire after 50th Year
Minnie Harper has spent her entire life in Dooly
County, and for 50 of those 73 years, she has been
teaching — in some form or another — for the Dooly
County School System.
In the spring, Harper will walk out of the school
system with her granddaughter, who will be
graduating at the same time, and mark 50 years
teaching in the same school system that she attended.
“I feel I just started teaching yesterday,” said Harper,
who holds a bachelor’s degree in business education,
master’s degree in education and master’s degree in
early childhood education.
“I told my granddaughter: I’m going to march out when
you march out.”
Since she began her career in education in 1971, a
lot has changed, and Harper has borne witness to
many decades of trends and technology — in and
out of the classroom. “It’s funny because when I first
taught typing, it was on a manual typewriter, then we
got an electric typewriter.”
In addition to the passage of time, Harper has
changed since her first day teaching. In fact, she
has taught a variety of subject areas and grade
levels during her decades of being in the classroom.
Although she’s taught typing, remedial math, remedial
English language arts, business education and social
studies, her favorite subject was physical education,
“I always was a tomboy, and I always liked sports,” said
When she taught PE, Harper says she didn’t just throw
balls around. She assigned her students homework,
asking them to do research on the particular sport
or game—or square dancing—before they started
playing as a class. She even gave quizzes.
“I loved teaching PE,” she said. Harper jokes that her
25 years as a PE teacher kept her in shape as well.
And every time the county
needed her to fill another
“I’ve just adjusted,” said
Harper. “I’ve learned.”
Despite her unhappiness
at leaving her favorite
position, Harper adapted to
her new subject, learning
all that she needed in
order to teach her students
Beyond the classroom,
Harper has dedicated more time to Dooly County.
She’s been instrumental in the district’s athletics
program for both middle and high school. Harper’s
name is plastered over the walls in the halls of the
middle school and high school for her involvement in
softball, basketball and track.
Harper has racked up seven regional championships
for track during her time in athletics, which began in
the 1980s with middle school boys’ basketball. This
included a 4 x100 meter relay team that broke the
state record in Class A which was held by a previous
Dooly county team and then coach, Harry Ward. In
2014, her boys’ track team was state runner up in
Class A with several of the boys winning first place in
She’s remained involved in athletics until this past
year when she realized it was a good time to finish
her career in education. Although she has no plans for
what she’ll be doing once she retires, one thing is for
certain: Minnie Harper will stay busy.
“I always said I was going to teach as long as I was
happy and satisfied,” said Harper.
One of the traits that has made Harper such a loveable
teacher and coach has been her passion for putting
the kids first. At one time, Harper was juggling her
class workload with coaching four sports and raising
her two children. “My whole life, I’ve been busy every
day,” said Harper.
In the classroom, she’s watched students become
parents and bring their children back to her class.
She’s taught her son, her niece and nephew, and
now her granddaughter. Her maternal characteristics
applied to the sports she taught as well. Harper would
purchase equipment for students in need, whether it
was warm-up gear for her basketball players or the
eight pairs of track shoes she purchased last year for
her track athletes.
And she wouldn’t trade it.
However, she does admit that middle school grades
have always been her favorite to teach. “I love middle
schoolers. The kids have you laughing all the time.
They don’t really know where they are. They’re grown
yet still kids. They’re just confused. And I look at them
as all my little sisters and brothers,” said Harper.
Despite the decades, Harper actually had no intention
of becoming an educator. She was considering
becoming a secretary. While in college, Harper
listened to a guest lecturer talk about teaching. After
declaring herself a business education major and
completing her student teaching, a friend informed her
of an opening at Dooly County’s schools.
She applied and the rest is history.
“I just love the kids.”
By Alexandra Shimalla
“I always said I was going to
teach as long as I was happy
and satisfied,” said Harper.
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