‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’: A Conversation With Teacher and Alumna Dana Garrett


Azra Emeksiz

We see them nearly every day. Most of the time, we even see them more than our family or our friends: our lovely teachers. Have you ever wondered what their story is? We did! Soooo we decided to take a peek at Central Hardin alumna Dana Garrett.


CENTRAL TIMES: Can you tell me some about yourself? Where were you born? How old are you? When did you graduate from Central? What about your family? Do you have any kids, how old are they?

GARRETT: I am 35. I graduated from Central in 2004 and I lived in Hardin County most of my entire life. I lived in Colorado for a year right after I graduated. I am married and I have two kids. One of them is a freshman and the other is a five year old in kindergarten.

CENTRAL TIMES: What career did you start in and what led you to teaching?

GARRETT: So after I graduated, I went straight into college, but it was part time, so I was working and studying. I kept that career till I was 20 and I was store manager in a retail store. But I worked so many crazy hours. After I got my son, I realized I needed a more 9-5ish job. So I started working in a bank for a few years. I never thought I would be in financial jobs but they were good jobs. I definitely didn’t think I would go down that path but I did and I enjoyed it. I volunteer a lot, which was my passion at that time. While I was volunteering, we worked a lot with schools and education, and that’s when I realized I definitely wanted to be a teacher. So here I am, teaching.

CENTRAL TIMES: Are you able to use your prior career experience in beneficial ways in the classroom?

GARRETT: Yes. What I teach is a perfect path, because I teach civics and economics. So civics teaches students about the sculpture, about our government, and their role in it. That is my non profit background. Economics, on the other hand, is about our economy and businesses. My work in finance helped a lot with economics. The thing that makes teaching fun is I just don’t talk about it; I can also share my real life experiences.

CENTRAL TIMES: We heard that you have a shop that you own with your sister. How much time outside of school do you devote to this business? How do you balance it all?

GARRETT: It is a tough balance. I started two careers at once. My job experience in finance makes me great behind the scene work. I tell my sister how much she should spend and she spends it. She runs it day to day, I just do things in the back scene: taxes, accounting, payroll, all the number stuff. I usually help through my computer in the house, but I am there on the weekends, holidays, and in summer when the school is out. It works out well.

CENTRAL TIMES: Was there any teacher here that taught you when you were in this school?

GARRETT: Ms.Sherrard was my English teacher. Mrs.Davis, Mr.Isaacs, Mr.Adams, Mrs.Yates. They really made it fun. I kinda think about them when I teach. It is really neat to work with them. I will always call her Ms.Sherrard because she is my Ms.Sherrard.

CENTRAL TIMES: What were your favorite classes?

GARRETT: It is called physical conditioning, which you would go out and work out. I think it is called sport skills now, but I took that every year. It was not only just to work out, it was actually a class to take with your friends, and you would work out, which you know was really nice too. 

CENTRAL TIMES: What was your least favorite thing about high school?

GARRETT: I can tell you my favorite thing first. It was school lunch. We had the best school lunch. My least favorite thing was . . .One year when I was here we had something called block scheduling, really had four classes a day and the classes were an hour and a half long. You would really get bored there. We didn’t have FLEX. I  would really enjoy that.

CENTRAL TIMES: What was one of your memorable stories from high school?

GARRETT: It is probably my experience as a cheerleader. Our team was really good. We were state runner ups twice, and we were national champions four years in a row. It was the experience as a cheerleader, friendships, and the things we accomplish as a team. That made me so proud, and it still sticks with me today.

CENTRAL TIMES: Do you think high school friendships are permanent, are you still in contact with them?

GARRETT: Yes and No. Mrs.Goodman, she and I were best friends in high school and middle school. We are close friends today. There are other people I still talk to, but we don’t hang out all the time, because when you grow old, and have a career and family, it is hard to hang out with them.

CENTRAL TIMES: What is your favorite thing about teaching?

GARRETT: I have lots of favorite things about teaching. My favorite thing is probably seeing growth from students. I teach sophomores more, then I also teach seniors. Seeing sophomores grow into seniors, seeing how much they grow, learn, change and mature. It is really cool to see, like you are an adult. Look how far you have come, you are gonna do so good.

CENTRAL TIMES: If you could start over again, would you change your career?

GARRETT: No, I would not. I am really thankful to the road I traveled to get to teaching, because most teachers know they want to be a teacher, and they start teaching at 22. I didn’t start teaching till I was 30. Doing all the jobs I did gave me a different perspective. I don’t only teach my students content, I teach them things to help them to be successful when they get their first jobs.

CENTRAL TIMES: What was your best piece of advice you have ever received that you want to share with the students in our school?

GARRETT: Don’t sweat the small stuff. I remember lots of times in high school, when something happened, and I really felt like it was the end of the world, like it will never be better, never be the same, but with each day that passes, it is gonna be better and better. When you look back at them you are gonna say that was not a big deal and see how you overcome and grow.

We really enjoyed our interview with Mrs.Garrett, and got to know her story more. You could really feel that she does her job with passion by the enthusiasm in her voice. Imagining that she sat down at these desks, and cheered to our Bruin song, nearly 22 years ago, gave me chills about how time goes so fast. Now she is at these desks again, but this time it is not to learn, but to teach and inspire others.