SUMITON — Sumiton Middle School teacher Gloria Chatman was honored with a surprise assembly Friday in honor of her career and in celebration of her retirement.
During her 40-year career, Chatman worked at Nauvoo, Sipsey and Sumiton schools, spending the majority of her career at Sipsey. She spent the last four years teaching sixth grade science at Sumiton.
Donny Bridges, former principal at Sipsey who worked with Chatman for many years, served as one of the assembly's speakers and described her as a "friend who's had my back several times" and "as my idea of a traditional teacher."
"She believed in reading, writing and arithmetic. Anything Sipsey school asked her to do, she did it," Bridges said. Chatman "will not put a show on for you, she's not fake. And if [she] tells you it's snowing outside, go build you a snowman. That's how much faith I have in her."
Bridges described how Chatman's biggest asset as a teacher was her discipline. He also commended her for the excellent Black History Month programs she planned each February at Sipsey.
During her career, Chatman taught history and science and coached volleyball and basketball. She went beyond her teaching duties, holding multiple food drives throughout each year as well as working a summer camp for girls, which she plans to continue even into her retirement.
"I've done a little some of everything," she said after the assembly.
When it was her turn to address everyone, Chatman jokingly reminded her co-workers that she doesn't like surprises but thanked everyone for "making my day special."
Chatman added she was excited and looking forward to retirement, although she's not sure where it's going to take her.
"I've loved what I've done, I've had great friends and I'm proud that I fulfilled my dream because I always wanted to be a teacher," she said. "I've enjoyed it, but it's just time to move on."