Whitesburg KY

Home will always be Jenkins

John Shook was born at Burdine on June 4, 1941. His parents were John D. and Maxine Shook.

John reminisced, “Very early in my childhood I realized that I had the greatest parents in the world. During my first six years we lived in Burdine, Kentucky, Phoenix, Arizona, and Jasper, Alabama. My parents moved to Arizona because a local doctor diagnosed my dad as having tuberculosis. When the family relocated to Arizona for health reasons, a doctor there determined that he did not have TB so my parents decided to stay there. My mother and father both got jobs working in a defense plant during World War II My parents then moved to my mother’s hometown in Jasper, Alabama, and tried farming for a while.

“My dad then learned that there was a job opening at No.4 coal tipple in Jenkins, so we moved back to Jenkins in 1946 in time for me to enroll in the first grade at Burdine Elementary School. We were back in Burdine for my sweet sister’s first birthday and in time for me to become a fullblooded Burdine Bluejay. As the years have passed the shade of blue has become pure Kentucky blue. Everywhere we’ve lived people have been fully aware of the color of my blood.

“ I continued to be a Bluejay until my eighthgrade year when the Burdine School became overcrowded at the eighth-grade level. Those of us who were football players or band students were given the opportunity to go to the Jenkins school. That was the year I became a Cavalier and also would meet a beautiful girl named Rosemary Brown who would eventually become my wife. We have now been married 54 years.

“Five years later we graduated from Jenkins High School along with all the wonderful friends we had grown to love. Our school colors were kelly green and white. We were ‘green to the bone’ but we had also grown to love the Kentucky Wildcats and had become Kentucky Blue Bloods.

“In the fall of 1959, trumpet in hand, I became a student at Morehead State College. In April of 1960 I enrolled in a new course of study called ‘Marriage’ with my sweetie from the eighth grade, Rosemary Brown, who was also a student at Morehead. Together we spent the next three years pursuing our degrees in education completing them in May of 1963. We began our teaching careers that fall at Cumberland High School in Cumberland, Ky.

“Over the next 29 years we taught and worked in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida. We were blessed with two wonderful sons, Johnny and Don, and a host of friends who have helped shape our lives in ways they will never know. I finished my master’s degree in the summer of 1976 at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and began pursuing the administrative side of education.

“In the fall of 1989 I became director of the inschool suspension program at Westwood Junior High in Polk County, Florida. The next year I was moved to the assistant principal position at the Lake Alfred Career Development Center in Lake Alfred, Florida. During our visits through the years to Jenkins, we had gotten to know Dr. Parker Tiller who was superinten- dent of the Jenkins Independent Schools System. We expressed our desire to return to Jenkins to finish our careers. He assured us that if anything ever opened up in our areas of certification he would let us know. In 1992 Dr. Tiller called me about an opening for a music teacher in the Jenkins school. Although I was happy in my assistant principal position and Rosemary was comfortable in her fifth year in the same school, we resigned and came home to Jenkins, I as a music teacher and Rosemary, unemployed. But we were finally home.

“The next year I was hired in the Letcher County School System as principal at Arlie Boggs Elementary School at Eolia where I served for two years. In October 1995 I was moved to Letcher County Schools Central Offices as Director of Pupil Personnel where I served for six years.

“In July of 2001 my primary career goal became a reality when I was hired to be superintendent in the Jenkins Independent Schools District. Board Chairman Durward Narramore and board members Tracy Goff, Benji Prunty, Sue Fulton, and Rick Yonts will never know what a blessing they allowed me to receive. I will always be grateful and hold them in a special place in my heart. I served in that position for seven years before I retired. One of my goals as superintendent was to fill the school district with Jenkins graduates who were filled with ‘Cavalier green blood’ and a love for Jenkins. People like Charlotte Mullins, Jenny Miller, Reba Lucas, Ruth Tackett, Sherry Wright, Damian Johnson, Harvey Tackett, Mary Hall and many school staff personnel who were devoted to the students and the community made going to work something to look forward to every day. Every day was special because many of the students were the grandchildren of many of my former Cavalier classmates and friends. I could never have expected such a satisfying way to end a 45-year career in education. ON, ON, CAVALIERS!

“After retirement, Rosemary and I are now living in Elizabethton, Tenn. We decided to relocate to the east Tennessee area because of all the kinfolks she has here. Also, her health problems made stairs an impossible task and our house in Jenkins had steps and stairs everywhere. We are also closer to my brother David who lives in Asheville, N.C. If there is one thing we’ve learned through the years it’s that you may be away from Jenkins, as many of our classmates and friends are, but you always look for a reason to come back for a visit. Home will always be Jenkins.”

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