MADISONVILLE, Ky. (4/30/13) – From the very beginning, Donald Clayton had a deep passion for teaching and after 41 years of doing so, he will be retiring at the end of this semester.
“I played school as a child. In fact, when I played school, I always wanted to be the teacher. I made up fictitious people and each person had a different score when I graded their papers. I taught all subjects when I played school… math and spelling, things like that,” stated Donald Clayton, Professor of Math and Natural Sciences at Madisonville Community College.
When Clayton reached High School, Algebra seemed to click more than any other math class he had ever taken. “I liked all my teachers and subjects but Mrs. Edwards Algebra 1 just clicked more than anything else. For some reason dealing with exponents was so much easier than plain math to me. And this was before we started using calculators. My other mathematics teachers were excellent too, and helped prepare me to further my education,” expressed Clayton.
After Clayton graduated from high school, he went on to Campbellsville University for his Bachelors and finished his Master’s Degree at Murray State University.
In 1971, Clayton started as a teaching assistant at Murray State University while working on his Master’s Degree. After he received his masters, he went to Madisonville Junior High School (Browning Springs Middle School now) after one of the teachers resigned to finish out the school year. He then moved on to Earlington High School which started a Title VI program for remedial math and English for the next two years it was known as the high school and before it merged into the Hopkins County school system. “All the teachers in Earlington were grandfathered in and depending on which side of the railroad tracks the students lived on, it would determine what high school they would be attending. I was assigned to go to West Hopkins High School and I taught there for the next 10 years,” Clayton also stated.
While he was teaching at West Hopkins, Clayton received a phone call from Madisonville Community College’s math department professor Dr. Warren, who offered him a part-time position teaching after he go off work from the High School. Clayton worked as a part-time math teacher for two years before a full-time position came available in the fall of 1985. He applied and got the job. “After two years of teaching part-time, I asked Dr. Warren if there would be a full-time position available because I really enjoyed it. It’s hard to pick just one favorite teaching memory because I worked in different places and ages. They were all enjoyable,” continued Clayton.
“I think teachers should stress mathematics. But I also think the parents should also encourage their children to start early on and memorize mathematic facts such as; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division so by the time they get to Algebra, they will be ready for those positive and negative exponents. So many students are calculator dependent and they need to have an idea of what the answer is and I think knowing those rules can help in their real life situations such as not being cheated out of money, bidding on a job, just receiving change back or whatever the situation may be,” Clayton also expressed.
After retirement, Clayton hopes to travel and visit his family from coast to coast. He also would like to visit state and national parks and museums. He would even like the chance to visit some of Frank Lloyd Wright homes.
A community reception will be held in his honor this Thursday, May 2nd, from 4:00pm-6:00pm, at the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce office.
Photo Provided by Amber Mena
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