Stoute saying goodbye as Erath Middle principal
The last goodbye is always the hardest one.
For Wendy Stoute, that is saying farewell to a place that has meant so much to her.
Stoute, a longtime Vermilion Parish educator, will be retiring as principal at Erath Middle School.
“For me, this is a very bittersweet moment in my life,” Stoute said. “It is not easy leaving a career that I was called to do. I love working with kids, I love working with my teachers, and I love making a positive impact in the lives of our youth. It’s just what I do, and what I’ve always done.
“So, it is very hard to say goodbye to this job, but I am ready to move forward and see what my future holds.”
Stoute’s official last day will be on June 5. She’s certainly not coasting into the sunset.
“I have not slowed down enough to even think about that day,” But, my official last day is June 5th, 2020, so my retirement begins June 6th (it’s so close)!!”
Stoute is a native of Erath. She taught at EMS for 13 years. She made moves to J.H. Williams, Cecil Picard Elementary at Maurice and Eaton Park Elementary in various roles, before returning to Erath Middle as principal in 2015.
“I honestly know what people mean when they say ‘my life has come full circle’,” Stoute said. “Erath is my home. I grew up in Erath, raised my family here, I own a local business here, and I still live here. In fact, my very first teaching job in 1989 was at Erath Middle School (I walk by my first classroom every day). And, although I have taught in Erath for many years, it is not the only place in this parish that I have worked. I’ve had an amazing career, and once I became an administrator, my job brought me to different schools (J.H. Williams, Cecil Picard Elementary, Eaton Park Elementary) allowing me to work with so many amazing educators in our parish.
“These experiences and relationships along with staying true to my hometown roots have made me successful in my current position at Erath Middle School. Erath Middle School means so much to me, and so it is only fitting to end my career and the very place where it began.”
Stoute will always remember how that career began.
“When I leave on June 5,” Stoute said, “I will remember that back in 1989, someone at Erath Middle School took a chance on me (Ebrar Reaux, principal at the time) and couldn’t imagine retiring at any other school.”
As for memories collected during more than 30 years, those are too many to count.
“I have so many memorable experiences in my career that I cannot pick just one,” Stoute said. “Every school that I worked at was unique and has its own set of special memories. When you work in a field that is centered around children, every day brings about special moments and enough laughter to last a lifetime. Honestly, I’ve had an amazing career and I would not change one thing! I set out at the beginning of my career to “make a difference” in the lives of children. And all my decisions have been based on what was best for my students.
“It is because of this that I feel I am leaving with friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.”
There are going to be many challenges to face within a lifetime. Stoute has seen some of those in the years leading up to retirement.
“These past two years have been difficult,” Stoute said. “First, I lost my mother in March, and then this November, I lost the love of my life, Tom. After Tom’s passing, I knew I needed to take time to heal and really focus on myself.”
Along with personal challenges, there are challenges we all share. Few have been as tough as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those effects is the school year being cut short.
“I never saw this year ending the way it has. It all happened so fast,” I had seen the Coronavirus in the news but did not even foresee the huge impact it would make on the world. I never thought that March 13 would be the last time I’d see the hallways of my school filled with children. I didn’t know that would be the last day I’d hear the laughter at recess or walk through classrooms of eager students learning from my energetic, hardworking teachers. I will miss my students, faculty, and staff so very much.
“As I walk the hallways of an empty school building, my heart is broken knowing that March 13 was the last time I would ever interact with them. My favorite part of the day is the interaction with my students and teachers.”
Retirement is officially coming in few days. It’s still an odd thought for Stoute.
“Retiring is a word that I am going to have to get used to,” Stoute said. “I am truly someone who is constantly on the move, and I am going to have to learn to slow down. But I have a few things that I know that I am going to do. I am going to travel to places I’ve always wanted to go to and haven’t been. I am going to read books that have been on my ‘must read’ list for years. I will garden, learn new skills, play with my grandchildren, enjoy being around friends... I guess in short, I plan to stay busy!”
Stoute is preparing to say a difficult goodbye on June 5. However, it’s possible that it may not be her last goodbye to education, something that has meant so much to her.
“I am going to take this upcoming year to focus on myself and my family,” Stoute said. “I am going to do things that I have always wanted to do. But, education is more than a job to me, it is my life. So, I don’t think this retirement is the end of my career. I believe you all will be seeing me back in education in some form in the very near future.
“I cannot imagine not returning to this career; it’s my calling in life.”