This is the fifth installment of an autobiography I was required to write for our upcoming mission position.
I share it with no pretense of it being self-glorification. It is simply a timeline of God’s faithfulness in our lives. I have written it with a transparent and honest spirit.
The weaknesses are all mine… the triumph belongs to God.
Please pray for us as we continue this journey.
DeDe was the school music teacher and I was the science teacher and basketball coach. We joined Palestine Baptist Church and were privileged to serve and worship there for the next six years. It is where I was ordained as a deacon in 1984.
I learned so much about life and leadership during my coaching years. That first high school team had no experience and plenty of youth. I had much to learn and we finished the year at 1-29. However, the boys stuck together, working hard and continuing with practice when the season ended. I was later blessed to coach excellent teams in basketball and baseball but this first team is still my favorite. All of the players have been faithful fathers and husbands, and worked hard in their community. The lessons we all learned during that difficult year benefittd us all and led to special relationships that still last.
After another year at this school, DeDe and I were offered jobs at my home school, East Beauregard High. I was very fortunate to work on an experienced coaching staff with talented players. It was a time of hard work, long hours, and great success.
I loved being in the classroom. I had a passion to teach science as well as coach. I’ve never respected coaches who were lazy in the classroom. I believe everything we do (or don’t do) affects everything else. I had the goal of reaching every student and geared my teaching to capture the hearts of rural students in biology and chemistry.
During these years, our first two sons were born. Clay (1982) and Clint (1984) enriched our lives. In 1985, we purchased our first home in Dry Creek community. I also completed my Master’s Degree in School Administration.
That same year I faced one of the greatest decisions of my life.
I was completely satisfied teaching and coaching. With our principal’s retirement, the new principal offered me the assistant principal’s position. Initially I wasn’t interested but time and prayer led me to accept. I hated to leave the classroom and court but realized I could influence 800 students from ages K-12. It was also a good career move for our future. I understood that I’d leave the close classroom camaraderie with students and fellow teachers.
I had a difficult but fascinating job. I handled discipline for the entire school. I’d deal with an 18-year-old senior followed by a crying kindergartener. It was during this time I began writing more. I gathered stories from each school day as well as my rural life. Teachers brought good stories to me and as I wrote and shared, I began hearing, “Have you ever thought about writing a book?”
Our third son, Terry, was born in 1989. We had hoped for a girl (Terry Ann) but Terry Curt Iles was a joy from the start. Our three boys were heavily involved in school, sports, and church activities. It was a rewarding but exhausting time in our lives.
During the summers I continued serving at Dry Creek Camp as summer staff director. I supervised thirty summer workers and loved every moment of it. It also allowed DeDe and the boys to be involved in the camp’s ministry.
In 1990, our principal took a sabbatical and I served as acting principal. It was a rewarding and demanding year. I had to fire two teachers and our faculty faced the breakdown of numerous marriages. I loved the responsibility of shaping the heart of a school and looked forward to moving up in the system. I finished my Masters+30 and we began praying about working toward an educational PhD.
After my year as principal, the superintendent recommended me for a position as a supervisor. It seemed a logical step and I felt good about it. The school board was locked in a power struggle with the superintendent and tied on my appointment. My aunt, president of the Board, cast the deciding vote: against my selection. (It’s also a good story.) As a family, we were forced to work through the anger and disappointment on this matter. I have a wonderful relationship with my aunt.
Tomorrow: Part 6