The End of an Era

The last teacher that taught at Iuka High School, walked the halls for a final time in 35 years this May.

T. Glidewell
Posted 6/6/24

Mrs. DD Lambert retires from Iuka Middle School after working 35 years for the school district. She began at Iuka High School in August of 1989 and stayed with Iuka Middle School after the county schools consolidated.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

The End of an Era

The last teacher that taught at Iuka High School, walked the halls for a final time in 35 years this May.


It was the first day of school in August of 1990, but this day was unlike any other for the students at the Iuka Middle and High School.

The students in 8th through 11th grade knew it would be the last first day at Iuka. People unknown to the students decided the best option for the future was to consolidate the high schools in the county. This was the last year ever of Iuka High School.

We were taught by some of the best teachers in the state, and the 8th graders were just lucky enough to find themselves sitting in Mrs. DD Lambert’s English class. It was her second year of teaching.

Lambert graduated from the University of North Alabama in 1989 and worked as a substitute teacher in the Shoals area, waiting to find her classroom. These were the days before teacher shortages, finding a job in education did not come easy.

Some call it fate, others coincidence, but maybe it was destiny. Superintendent Dr. Stone reached out to Lambert after seeing her college graduation announcement in the Tishomingo County News/The Vidette. Iuka had a 9th-grade English position open that included teaching a class in Civics, and Lambert was looking to start her career.

She had one stipulation when hired; return to college and take 18 credits of Spanish to teach classes the following year. She honored the obligation and started teaching 9th-grade English and Civics while taking Spanish classes to fulfill the agreement.

For Lambert, plans changed just as they did for the students in the county. The consolidation of high schools was announced; she abandoned the Spanish classes because her heart was in teaching English.

Lambert taught her one and only high school English course that first year. In the fall of 1990, she moved to 8th-grade English. She moved around the middle school through the years but never left the halls of Iuka until now.

She strolled through the doors at 507 West Quitman Street in August of 1989 and closed the doors for the final time in 35 years on May 22, 2024.

Lambert is the last teacher from Iuka who taught in the classroom before the consolidation of the high schools. She is the end of a generation of teachers who started before computers were in the schools. As her career comes to a close, computers have become a vital part of the classroom.

Like many students after me, her English class is where the seeds were planted to love English and reading.

Lambert taught English in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Then, after 20 years in the classroom, she moved into the position she would retire from as the librarian.

According to Lambert, she taught close to 7,000 children. She settled into the librarian position and enjoyed watching her students mature and change over the 4 years they spent at Iuka Middle School.

She found joy in getting to know every student in the school; watching them grow and evolve is not a blessing bestowed on many teachers.

Lambert fostered those relationships and helped her students develop a love of reading.

In 35 years, the education system has changed and evolved like the students but her lifelong friendships with her coworkers were forged and solidified in these halls.

Lambert misses the old field days when the competition was cutthroat, but all in good fun for bragging rights to end the year. She will remember the anticipation of spring after a long winter but is relieved not to have the pressure of state testing.

She will hold dear the days she would read “The Witches” to the 5th graders and never forget the feeling when the middle schoolers would move on to Tishomingo County High School and excel in English.

Lambert’s accomplishments were not only in the success of her students but outside the classroom as well. As a 2-time teacher of the year, she served on many committees, was editor of the middle school yearbook, was a board member of the Tri-State Educational Foundation, and as she says, “was the keeper of all the hodgepodge in the school.”

“I’ve walked those halls a million times, collecting books, helping with someone’s computer, or just to say hello to a colleague I hadn’t seen for a while,” Lambert said. “I will miss the laughter and camaraderie.”

If her retirement reception was any indication, Lambert might be missed more than she will miss being there.

She had several students turned colleagues from her years at Iuka Middle at the reception to love on her one last time as an educator in the school district.

“As students, she loved us, challenged us, and taught us to be good spellers and poets and creative writers, whether we wanted to or not,” Rebecca Gray, the student-turned-colleague said. “As colleagues, she set the bar high with her wisdom and work ethic, and humor. As a fixture at IMS for 35 years, her presence in the halls will be missed, but her legacy will continue on.”

Lambert shows no signs of slowing down in retirement. She is excited to have time to spend with her children and her 3 wonderful grandchildren; Charlie, Julian, and Annaliese.

She has plans to complete all the projects that never quite were finished over the years because a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the school year ends. They continue to work, plan, and find new ways to reach their students.

Lambert will now have more time to serve in the church where her husband is the pastor, and now he can really utilize her as his personal secretary.

“I will relish in my time being my own for the first time in 35 years,” Lambert said. “Education has changed. There are so many more hats a teacher must wear these days. It is a hard, fast-paced profession, not for the weak at heart.”

Teaching for 35 years was not difficult for Lambert because she loved her job and going to school every day.

“Teaching is more than an 8-3 job; it is full of love, disappointment, joy, sorrow, exhilaration, pride, frustration, worry, and so many more emotions,” Lambert said. “But all in all, I am blessed I was a teacher and wouldn’t change a thing. I know I made a difference in many lives: I was significant, and isn’t that what it is all about?”

Lambert was more than significant. She was one in a million with a smile that lit up the room. Always a cheery voice to hear through the halls. Her legacy will live on through the students she taught, who chose to follow in her footsteps.

Not only was I blessed enough to have her as a teacher, but all three of my children had her, and for that, I am grateful because I know they are better. After all, she influenced them.