Therese Payne spent the last 27 years of her life teaching, first at Hancock County High School and then at Daviess County High School. When she retired in May, the school hired her daughter, Meredith Payne, to fill the position. Therefore, the upcoming new school year will bring about very different experiences than those to which this mother-daughter duo is accustomed.
Throughout her tenure, Therese taught English to all high school grades and Introduction to Education courses to seniors. She also sponsored her share of extracurricular activities including cheerleading, Beta Club and yearbook, to name a few. She holds dear the relationships she has been able to build with her students.
“A student asked me to stand in for her parents at the senior recognition at her church because, due to a strained relationship with her parents, they weren’t going to attend,” she said, calling the moment inspirational.
And now, Meredith, who graduated from Murray State University in May with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English education, is excited to travel the same career path as her mother. As a matter of fact, due to what Therese calls a “really nice gesture” by the school’s English department, Meredith will literally be following her mother’s footsteps as she teaches in her mother’s former classroom at Daviess County High.
When asked why Meredith chose to teach, Therese remembers a Beta Club community service event Meredith attended her freshman year. While neither she nor Meredith recollect the purpose of the event itself, they both recall that it involved young children.
“Meredith texted me and said, ‘Oh, my goodness, Mom. I think I want to be a teacher,’” Therese said. “I always thought she would be good with young students, but I was a little surprised she wanted to teach older students. I know she has an aptitude for it.”
Meredith, who had always desired to be a veterinarian as a child, said that her inspiration was being in her mother’s English class during her junior year of high school and seeing the positive impact Therese had on her students. “This really put her in a different perspective for me,” Meredith said. “I had just always seen her as my mom. But then I saw her as this very powerful, influential person who had the potential to make a big difference in people’s lives.”
Meredith has been working in her new classroom every day since she was issued the key.
“I have painted and remodeled,” she said. “It doesn’t even look like Mom’s classroom anymore, but it is really cool how I can still feel Mom in there. It is comforting that it was her room.”
In addition to teaching, Meredith is carrying on her mother’s legacy of extracurricular involvement. She will be the assistant coach for the volleyball team.
Meredith says her mom has been super helpful all summer.
“One time, I couldn’t find the copier. It wasn’t located where I remembered it being,” she said. “So, I had to call Mom and ask.”
She looks forward to more help from Therese during her career.
“I definitely think I am going to need her, especially during my first year,” she said. “I will always need her.”