Diane Baugher starting a new chapter
Diane Baugher, Manila elementary principal, is retiring as of June 16 and will begin a new chapter in her life.
The 37-year educator decided at an early age she wanted to be a teacher. She volunteered at the age of 16 to work in the Head Start program and got in on the ground floor of kindergarten in public schools.
The Valley View native earned her bachelors and masters degrees from Arkansas State University. She spent 25 years in the classroom teaching kindergarten, first and third grades. She has served as principal at Manila lower elementary for the last 12 years.
Mrs. Baugher said she is leaving on a high note as two of her goals have been reached. One goal was to see the new elementary building completed. Her second goal was to see the elementary get out of school improvement status. Just last week she received the preliminary scores showing Manila had 83 percentile in literacy and math.
"We are all so excited about the scores," Baugher said. "All of the teachers and students have worked so hard to make it happen."
Her desire to become a principal was to make a better school for the students.
"We got there and I am proud of it," she said.
Mrs. Baugher taught in Heber Springs, Jacksonville, Fla., (one year), and Nettleton, before making Manila her home 21 years ago.
She married Steve Baugher, moved to Manila and started teaching in the Manila Public School.
She will not have any problems adjusting to retirement as she loves to travel and has a few road trips planned. She enjoys being outside, digging in the dirt and gardening, fly fishing, and kayaking and will spend more time with her mother who lives in Jonesboro.
She smiled and said she is going to start a new "bucket list." Before there was a Bucket List movie, Mrs. Baugher had her own list.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and had to take 33 treatments.
"They told me I needed to focus on the future and make a list of things I wanted to do," she said. "At the end of my 33 treatments I had a list of 33 things."
Top on the list was sky diving. Other activities included going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, parasailing, going up in a hot air balloon, and more. She completed everything on her list and is ready for a new list.
On the top of her new list is becoming a Master Gardener. She would also like to volunteer to work with children at St. Jude Children's Hospital.
Mrs. Baugher was an active runner at one time and still runs the Race for Cure in Little Rock for breast cancer each year.
She is retiring with a lot of great memories. Her last kindergarten class graduated this year.
"I have enjoyed watching my students grow up," Mrs. Baugher said.