Cherokee Art School Teacher Retires After 44 Years of Dedicated Service

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

After 44 years as an art teacher at Cherokee High School in Cherokee, North Carolina, Alyne Stamper has decided to retire. Stamper said that although she spent 44 employed by the school, she unofficially began her teaching career as a 10th grade student. She explained that she stepped in to cover for a teacher who had gotten sick which led to her interest in teaching, saying it was an enjoyable experience that made her feel good.

When asked why she stayed on as a teacher for so many years she explained that the students were the reason. “The kids made my life so much richer,” she said. Many of the kids even begged her not to retire. She said that her career at the school allowed her to have two families.

In addition to her regular duties as an art teacher, Stamper helped grow the Cherokee art program at the school. Stamper is very proud of the program which she called outstanding. The school has partnered in the basket weaving program with the Cherokee Preservation Foundation for fifteen years. The basket weaving class which was once only open to a few students is now a regularly scheduled class at the high school thanks to grant monies.

Several of her students attended the Heard Museum Guild American Indian Student Art Show where their work was displayed and awarded. Stamper believes that the experience is something the kids will remember throughout their lives and that it motivates them to attend college.

Stamper said that she was thankful every day for having a career that she loved, and one that never felt like a job to her. To honor Stampers long career, her family held a pot-luck style retirement dinner in which the entire community was invited to attend.