Esther Hockett has taught, assisted and helped students grow for 56 years, where she works as the library media specialist at Mt. Juliet High School.
Hockett, a Wilson County native, graduated from Wilson County High School in 1959 and returned to the school four years later to work in the library and teach everything from English to history and health. In 1969, Hockett came to Mt. Juliet High School, where she has shaped the futures of students since.
In her mid-70s, Hockett was and continues to be honored and recognized throughout her tenure, including recognition for 50 years of service in 2013 and honored as professional of the year in library management in 2015.
The library media specialist title has held many different meanings throughout the years as the library shifted from card catalogs to rows of computers.
Hockett recalled the days when she collected filmstrips, records and cassette tapes to assist teachers in lessons, all of which were replaced with computers and the internet.
“What I have learned from experience is that every age brings in a change,” said Hockett, who added while technology has become the main resource in research, the fundamentals of looking up and citing sources is still the same, and the adaptation to those changes is the key to continued success.
Hockett doesn’t let a minute go by without bringing up colleagues, both current and retired, who helped her in her work and whom she has helped in theirs. From other librarians to teachers and student workers, Hockett places much of her success on the collective teamwork to make sure that every student has the resources and the support to learn effectively.
“Without teamwork, we might as well just go home and sit down,” Hockett said, “It has to be teamwork. It has to be.
“One thing that I really thank God for is the community support,” Hockett said. “Charlie Daniels and some more other people paid for us to have a copy machine where if students are doing a research project they could print off 50 pages, and it didn’t cost them a penny. And then the Parent Teacher School Organization really stepped up; they’ve been buying laminating film and just doing several things for us that help out on our budget. So the community is just wonderful with helping.”
Hockett said while education has changed with the implementation of more state and federal standards, the basis of learning is the same, and her attitude and admiration for her job remains in tact and alive.
“It’s been heaven, and it still is,” Hockett said as she recounted her years in the library. Years she has spent as a voice of encouragement and discipline, when needed.
That encouragement and discipline has had a noticeable effect, as former students who still live in Wilson County or who may run into her in passing remember her and honor her dedication to their education and their lives.
“I still don’t know to this day school, because right now we have three classrooms in this library every period,” Hockett said.
Whether it’s assisting a student in research, gathering materials for a teacher or lending an open mind and heart to anyone who needs it, it’s evident Hockett loves her job, her community and most importantly her students. Through the changes in technology or policy, she remains dedicated to support education to the end, with an understanding she continues to lay the foundation for future generations to support each other in their own ways.
“We change with the times,” Hockett said. “Things change, but I thank God that he’s let me live to see those changes and those who have made the changes and walked in the role of the changes and the beautiful job they do.”