I literally laughed out loud when I sat across the couch the other day as my dad told me he was going to put in for his retirement the following week. This probably was not the appropriate reaction to such big news. After all, Monte Rhoden, my dad, had dedicated 38+ years of his life to the teaching profession and it was all going to end in a matter of days. He had never even mentioned the thought of retiring, so this news came as quite a surprise. I couldn't help but think this was so typical of him--he has always done things his own way.

I literally laughed out loud when I sat across the couch the other day as my dad told me he was going to put in for his retirement the following week. This probably was not the appropriate reaction to such big news. After all, Monte Rhoden, my dad, had dedicated 38+ years of his life to the teaching profession and it was all going to end in a matter of days. He had never even mentioned the thought of retiring, so this news came as quite a surprise. I couldn't help but think this was so typical of him--he has always done things his own way.

After graduating from Otterbein College where he was a four-year varsity basketball player, Monte Rhoden began his teaching and coaching career at Ashland Crestview High School. Five years later he returned home to Columbus and taught at Franklin Heights High School. The next twelve years he spent at London High School teaching Honors English and coaching Boys' Varsity Basketball, among other sports. It would be a mistake not to mention that while Rhoden coached the Red Raiders they successfully recorded 22 consecutive wins vs. Madison County schools over a five-year span, not to mention four AA Sectional Championships, being named to the OSHBCA Hall of Fame, as well as leaving London High School ranking second on the all - time win list.

But it was Hilliard Middle School, later Hilliard Weaver Middle School where he made his home, teaching English and Honors English for 20? years and coaching Girls' Track for the majority of those years. "It's going to be extremely difficult to replace Monte Rhoden. I've had more parents request him to teach their son or daughter than anybody else." - Mr. Craig Vroom (current Weaver Middle School principal).

During his time in Hilliard, he also coached nine years as the Boys' Varsity Assistant Basketball coach at Davidson High School, helping the Wildcats reach the State Final Four in 2000. He also has coached Boys' Varsity Golf at Hilliard Davidson High School for many years and continues to be successful. He was recently inducted to the OHSAA Golf Hall of Fame.

Did I mention that he was also my basketball coach when I played throughout middle school and high school? But my favorite part of his coaching career was when I had the privilege to coach Boys' Basketball with him at Hilliard Memorial Middle School for several years. Amazingly, he has successfully coached three sports a year for the majority of his teaching career.

The quick math says that he has easily impacted the lives of well over 4,000 students in his career. That does not include any of the athletes he's ever coached--and the evidence is everywhere! It is not uncommon for students to write him letters from college thanking him for teaching them how to write properly in seventh grade. In fact, a few years ago the Hilliard City School District director of professional development Linda Romano invited Monte to speak to all of the high school Language Arts teachers on the writing process. "I just kept having the same conversation with different high school LA teachers and most often they told me that whenever they had a student in class who wrote exceptionally well, it turned out that Mr. Rhoden had been their seventh-grade Language Arts teacher. He had taught them how to grammatically diagram sentences, understand and use the parts of speech, and put it all together to write a "perfect paragraph".

Considered by many as "one of a kind", Monte Rhoden taught with a unique blend of old-school techniques like repetition, application, consistency, and praise. "Regardless of individual skills or abilities, Monte Rhoden recognized individual differences and differentiated instruction long before it became a popular educational strategy or district mandate. He knew every child, and taught as he coached, with an incredible heart." - Mr. Jeff Reinhard (former Weaver Middle School principal). Did I mention he has a few favorite quotes that his students could recite in their sleep? 1) No excuses. Just results! 2) Don't stop the parade to pick up the dime. 3) All that meat and no potatoes. 4) The way it was, is the way it is.

But it was how he taught that made just as big an impact as what he taught, and there's nothing "old school" about that! He always put students and their learning first. He always held them to a high standard and most importantly he SHOWED them that he cared. I remember him telling me in one of our many "teacher-dad to teacher-son" discussions, how he makes a point to compliment every kid every day in some way or another. That is amazing to me and is something I will never forget as I begin the middle stage of my teaching career at Hilliard Memorial Middle School. I know my sister, Kelley Clark, also keeps this philosophy of my dad's in mind as she goes about her daily business as the owner of Hilliard Cheer Academy and works with Hilliard cheerleaders.

As we wrapped up our conversation on the couch, it became clear to me why my dad had waited until the last possible moment to announce his retirement, whether he would admit it or not. He did not want any big celebration or gift of appreciation. He had been celebrating students every day for over 38 years. I believe that in his heart, he probably did not want four decades of teaching and learning to come to an end. His reward truly will be his memory of the thousands of students he's had the opportunity to work with every day over the course of his career. They were his "golden watch", his "plaque on the wall". I'm not quite sure which direction my dad will take with his life in retirement--after all he is his own man. However, I do have this feeling that he's not done impacting the lives of others. He has already proven to be an excellent father of two and grandfather of four and I know they all have a lot more to gain from him.