During a rough game of intramural basketball at J. Frank Hillyard Middle School, then 12-year-old Kinley Simmers remembers being called to the side by his coach, Margie Clement.
“She saw how hard I was playing and pulled me over,” he recalled. “She told me I should be able to make any team I tried out for because I have a big heart.”
As a petite player, Simmers said her unexpected words meant the world.
“She always brought out the best in [students]” he remarked. “She made you feel good about yourself no matter what the score.”
Simmers — who now works alongside Clement as a physical education teacher at JFHMS — says his respect for his former coach has only grown throughout the years.
“She coached me, taught me and now I get to work with her,” he said. “I’ve seen her through all different stages and I know that she’s just exceptional.”
Simmers clearly isn’t the only one who’s thinks so, as Clement was recently named JFHMS’s 2014 Teacher of the Year.
Clement, who was humbled by the recognition, says she’s always been passionate about her career.
“I love middle school kids,” she explained, adding that she enjoys helping students transition from children to teenagers.
As an instructor, Clement says she’s tries to “coach a whole child” by teaching students skills they can use on and off the court.
“Kids will listen to their coaches long before they listen to their parents, at times,” she points out.
However, after 35 years of teaching and coaching, Clement will be retiring this summer. On June 1, a roast in her honor will be held from 3-5 p.m. at JFHMS. Simmers says the event is open to the community, and encourages everyone to attend to show their appreciation.
According to Danielle Martin, a physical education teacher at JFHMS, a roast is the “perfect” send off for Clement.
“She’s always said in her second career she could be a stand-up comedian and she definitely could be,” remarked Martin. “She loves to laugh and she likes to be laughed at.”
Although Clement is looking forward to having more time to volunteer with her church community, and already has a mission trip planned for this fall, she says retiring won’t be easy.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said, her voice catching. “I know it’s time to go, but part of my heart will be left in that building.”
Contact Katie King at (540) 574-6271 or firstname.lastname@example.org