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EU Alumni Perspective: Rhonda Garrett

Name: Rhonda Garrett

Graduation Year: 1984

Major: Elementary Education, BS degree

Current Position: Retiring Principal- Jun 30, 2023-38 years in education in the Chardon, Ohio District. Attended Chardon Schools grades K-12.  Taught third grade one year in Wichita, Kansas

City and State: Chardon, OH 44024

 

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

At the close of Evangel’s May graduation I was hired to work for the Wichita Public School System and moved in with close family friends, Rev. and Mrs. Vance Cauthon to begin my first teaching assignment. After teaching a year in third grade, I was ready to move back home to be near family and in 1985 Chardon District welcomed me back, this time as their fourth grade teacher. I enjoyed my ten-year teaching career, but decided to pursue a master’s degree and obtained a principal’s and superintendent’s license.

In 1995, Chardon tracked me down two weeks before school opened; I began my new journey as Park Elementary Principal. What a great journey that has been for me! The past 28 years gave me the opportunity to educate thousands of students, connect with great Chardon families, and create positive, community partnerships. Relationship building has been unending and a true key to my success. One mantra I shared throughout my tenure, on a daily basis, has been very impactful…”Treat others as you would like to be treated”.  We all can learn more when we are respected and loved.

With the close of the 2023 school year and all its farewell celebrations, I was reminded of the calling that was on my life-to serve others through education. One gift from a special friend was a poem written for me entitled, “Well Done Good and Faithful Servant ”.

I was fortunate to receive a well-balanced, Christ-centered education while attending Evangel. By fulfilling God’s plan of working hard and obtaining my degree, my career path took shape and I was blessed to be able to work in my hometown for 38 years. I am now ready for the next phase, life after retirement.

 

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

The relationships with others. Especially, two special suite-mates with whom I still am connected and travel with over the years.  Knowing we all had Christian connections in some ways made me curious and interested in the lives of others from across the United States and other countries. Growing up on a small farm, in a rural neighborhood, I was enamored with all the friendships that I made throughout my four years. I have fond memories playing ROOK at the Joust, freezing on a weekend camping trip planned by Dr. Davidson for bonus points in a geology class, and rushing back from Sunday church to beat the crowd assembling in the lunch line for chicken strips and mashed potatoes with gravy.

 

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

Evangel provided me with a consistent, well-rounded education which led to my Bachelor’s degree. My education classes and student teaching experience led by Dr. Becky Huechteman prepared me well for my teaching career after graduation. It was great to have connections with christian mentors. They freely shared life-situations that caused me to think and grow.

During my junior and senior years, I was employed as the floor Resident’s Assistant (RA) in Spence Hall. This position furthered my leadership skills and allowed me to develop management abilities while supporting others.

 

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

I increased my worldview at Evangel. I had the experience of living on campus away from my small rural town and learned to collaborate with others from around the world. I was exposed to many different situations that caused me to think and own my personal beliefs and desires. Dr. Spence, Billy Graham, and even back to coach Denny Duron all shared God inspiring words; My christian roots anchored more deeply as I engaged in campus ministry over the years.

 

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Expose yourself to lots of different learning styles and situations. Everything you do can enlarge your professional tool box. The more tools you have, the better. Being able to collaborate with several different types of personalities is a strength and makes you more appealing in the workforce.

 

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

As a principal, I have interviewed many candidates over my 28 years. Once they have provided competent skills in the specified job description, I look for strong communication skills, integrity, work ethic, and a team player attitude. Candidates with these skills were great hires.