Garnet Jolley had the unique experience of growing up overseas due to her father Merril Asay’s employment with the U.S. Agency for International Developement. Consequently, Jolley was born in Afghanistan and lived in Brazil for eight years, then Taiwan, Thailand, Switzerland and Nepal. She said wherever she was living at the time was her favorite place.
Jolley’s family, Merril, Delsa and siblings, visited her grandparents, who lived in Lovell throughout the years, so she was familiar with this area.
She attended the University of Wyoming, where she met and married David Jolley. They moved to Lovell in 1976. After they had four children, Jolley returned to her studies through night classes with the UW extended degree program at NWC. She earned a B.S. in elementary education in 1987. Meanwhile, she had her fifth child. She eventually got a master’s degree from Chadron State College.
In 1989 she took a position at Rocky Mountain Elementary, teaching fifth grade. After 20 years the opportunity came “to shake things up a bit,” and she moved to second grade 10 years ago. She retires from teaching at the conclusion of the current school year.
“I truly loved teaching fifth grade. I loved the focus on the American Revolution and Constitution. We were able to do a lot more things then than you can now. We took them to the NWC field station above Cody for outdoor and high adventure opportunities. That was a lot of fun. The fifth grade ski trip was memorable. Most of the students had never been skiing, so they were scared to death. It was fun seeing the change in them throughout the day. When it was time to go off the mountain, they didn’t want to leave,” she said.
“Second grade has been wonderful, also. I’ve enjoyed the change of pace and the focus on reading essential skills, but still bring in my passion for American history and science.”
Jolley has many fond memories of teaching. Starting in the old Cowley Elementary building and then moving to a new building, field trips, science experiments, salamanders, folk songs, poetry and hatching chicks are a few.
She hatched chickens in the classroom every year.
“It was pretty cool when they hatched during class time. We watched them grow for two to three weeks and got to see them grow feathers. They (students) enjoyed that. Having the chicks in the classroom in the springtime was a good motivation for the students to keep coming to school,” she added.
“I’ve always taught the kids American folk songs,” Jolley continued. “Singing is a wonderful way to bond with kids. It creates unity in the class, and I could even sneak in a social studies connection. When I see former students they never ask me if I’m still teaching math or science. They say, ‘Are you still doing folk songs?’
“Another thing that is memorable is have the students memorize poetry. It promotes enthusiam, expression and comprehension. It’s a fun way to pull the class together, making positive memories involving education.”
Jolley said she found lesson planning most enjoyable. She always attempted to find a creative edge to engage the students and keep their attention.
“I always looked for ways to create energy in a lesson. For example, I wanted to make lesson plans on plants so kids wouldn’t just roll their eyes. If I’m bored, the kids will be bored. Preparing with this goal makes teaching a fun career,” she explained.
Having had her background, Jolley said she has consistently made an effort to share with kids the other places she lived, to allow them to expand their world by understanding other people and their culture.
Thinking of the most rewarding thing in her 30 years of teaching, Jolley said it was going to work in a safe, friendly, supportive environment.
“Being able to work at Rocky Mountain Elementary School with the faculty and staff has definitely been the most rewarding. They are wonderful, good, dedicated educators, but they have fun, too. It’s been lots of joy with lots of support. Rocky Mountain Elementary has been a wonderful culture to work in,” she shared.
In retirement Jolley has no grand or amazing plans, she said. She wants to enjoy her time with family, reading and doing projects around the house.
“I am an energetic person and am confident I will find things to keep me busy,” Jolley concluded.