Retirement of The Last Original

“Sometimes it’s not just the education part when you feel like you’ve helped a student in some way.”

Lilly Keith, Writer

For 33 years, Mark Martin has been working as one of the most helpful math teachers that one could cross paths with. For the past 29 years, Mark Martin has been a student and staff favorite at Central Hardin High School. 

It all started in 1990. 

“Well, the first four years, I taught at East Hardin Middle School but I’ve coached here since I’ve been at Central now for 29 years, but I’ve coached or taught here since the school opened,” Martin said.   

Martin started as an assistant baseball coach, which lead to a six-year head-coach stint. He also served as an assistant football coach and softball coach for several years, quitting coaching about 12 years ago.

Martin’s biggest influence in his decision to start teaching was his family line, which was largely made up of educators. 

“Both my parents were teachers so I got a lot of cousins uncles and aunts so I kind of grew up with that,” Martin said. “When I decided I didn’t want to stay in pre-med, I had already had a lot of math classes, and I pretty much knew that if I wasn’t going to do that then I wanted to teach.”

When in school, the teachers with methods most helpful to you will always remain engraved in your mind. Some so much so that they become the blueprint of one’s own teaching methods. 

“The way that I teach, two of the best math teachers I’ve ever had for two years were Sandy Scott and Ron Sallengs, and both of them winded up teaching here, Sallengs was an assistant principal here, but I kind of modeled the way I teach after them,” Martin said.

Towards the middle of this school year, Martin reached a milestone in his life- one that could forever impact his career. 

“Back in November, I turned 55, and once you have 30 years and you’re 55, that’s kind of the top for retirement, and every year you stay on you get an extra 2.5% added on and to be honest with you, I can now make more money by retiring and subbing for five days a month,” Martin said. 

Though the benefits play a large factor in the decision, there are many other appealing aspects of retirement to the beloved math teacher. 

“Working when I want to work and going fishing, hunting, or golfing if I want to do that, just having a choice… Martin said. “It’s just time… I don’t want to stay so long that I become the grumpy old bitter teacher that no one wants to have anymore.”

The benefits still come with the side effects of missing his favorite aspects of his career. 

“Just being around young people, as I get older, it makes me feel mentally younger even though my body’s telling me I’m getting older,” Martin said. “I like trying to be a positive influence on kids.” 

A substantial goal of Martin’s was to be a rock for his students who needed it. 

“I have always tried to make my students feel like they can come and talk to me, I have had several students, at least a couple a year, that kind of get comfortable enough with me that they will come to me when it’s not even classtime, like during power hour and just kind of hang out and talk,” Martin said.

Martin’s impact on his students ranges from being best friends to him being a reliable source for the ones who need him. 

“I’ve had a couple of students that have had like serious issues at home, and I’ll listen to them and try to just encourage them like this isn’t gonna last forever. Sometimes it’s not just the education part when you feel like you’ve helped a student in some way,” Martin said. 

The impact he’s had on his students certainly does not go unnoticed. 

“He’s genuinely a good man, I love his presence in class and enjoyed my time in there,” senior Dillan Baird said. “Towards the end of the second trimester after we had our finals finished he would play episodes of Reba on the projector. He really is just a fantastic man and I want to be him when I grow up. I really am sad that other underclassmen don’t get to have the ‘Mark Martin Experience’ but I like to gatekeep.”

“He was the only teacher that made me wanna be on time for the first block,” senior Reed Emery said. 

“He’s always attentive to my questions and is available to help when I need it. He’s funny, helpful to all, and nice. I love his bigfoot fascination. I’m really going to miss him,” sophomore Celia Keith said. 

Throughout his years of teaching and coaching, Martin has collected many stories that he fondly looks back on. 

“The funniest stories are from coaching. When I coached baseball, we used to have a lot of kids. We’d have 60 kids on tryout days sometimes, and I certainly can’t repeat this but this one kid came to practice but he came to practice with a totally inappropriate hat on, and dealing with a few things like that.” 

“Some of the things with the coaches and teachers that we used to do, we’d get something together, we used to have our faculty meetings in the afternoon at East Hardin, so they could drag on forever, and sometimes some teachers would start talking about stuff that only had to do with them and we’re all ready to go,” Martin said’., “Well Todd Haydon and I that I taught and coached with, he’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever known, we just got to blatantly laying our heads back, dropping our arms, our principal loved us …but he started giving us dirty looks, like would you please shape up? He was mad but he also understood, like you can’t act like that in a faculty meeting…Sometimes the frustrating moments turn into funny moments.”

Though Martin has many friendships with current Central Hardin students, he has a long history with certain staff at Central Hardin. 

“There’s a lot of teachers here that are some of my former students, Leslie Lewis, Jayna Thompson, Mrs. Carpenter, the Ms. Pauley that left just recently,” Martin said. “I graduated high school with Mr. Isaacs, we played basketball together, I went to high school with Ms. Sherrard, Ms. Kuchowicz, Mrs. Bauer’s husband and I went to junior high together. There’s a lot of ties to my teenage years and my early teaching years.”

His history with Susan Sherrard goes back to their own high school careers.

“What I remember about him is he was Mr. Everything, Mr. Senior, and his girlfriend at the time was Miss. Senior, he had a 4.0, he played football, basketball, and baseball, and he was someone everyone liked and looked up to,” Sherrard said. 

My sophomore year, I had the pleasure of having Mr. Martin in class. His Honors Geometry class was one of my all-time favorites. His way of teaching was the only one that ever made much sense to me. 

Martin’s patience was extremely reassuring to my writing-oriented brain. His ability to break down what I didn’t understand was astonishing, as well as something that nobody else has been able to recreate. 

His personality was also a defining piece of his class. His witty jokes never failed to make the class laugh. His stories always brightened our days. 

Martin’s mark on my high school career will forever be one of my fondest thoughts of high school. His kindness, love, and understanding is something that can be few and far between. 

Martin is the last remaining teacher that has been here since the first year of Central Hardin’s opening. 

Though Martin’s time at Central Hardin is coming to an end, his legacy will live on in the next generation of his students whom he’s molded and turned into brilliant mathematicians.