Teachers in Kearney Say It's a Family Business

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KEARNEY, Neb. -- Joining the family business usually involves working at or taking over a family owned company. But for some, it means taking up the same job as your parent, like being a teacher.

When JD Carson graduated college he hoped to be able to work in the same school system he grew up in. And even though he applied at many Kearney schools, it was just a lucky coincidence he was hired at the same one his mother teaches at.

"For my son to be able to teach in our district was really a dream come true," said Maggie Carson, an 8th Grade American History teacher at Sunrise Middle School.

JD, a 6th Grade Physical Science and Math teacher at Sunrise said, "She was one of the big reasons why I wanted to be a teacher. I just remember when I was in school, other kids saying, 'Hey, I was in your mom's class, she's so awesome, I loved her class, she's so cool,' things like that. And that just made me kind of want to be like my mom."

And over at Kearney Senior High, Kathy Gifford has been joined by her daughter Tennille for the past 5 years.

"When you want to rant about something or when you want to just talk over something, it's nice to have somebody there who has the same background and knows the same people, that kind of thing. So it's good to have somebody to feed off of," said Kathy, a Family Consumer Science and Healthcare Science Teacher.

And they're happy to have had that time together, because Kathy is retiring at the end of this year.

Along with the Carsons and the Giffords, Judy and Jeff Shield are another mother and son combination along with several husband and wife tandems. The teachers say that this shows that Kearney Public Schools really cares about family.

JD Carson said, "I think it's a very family oriented place. I think Kearney Public Schools is a place that prides itself on family coming first."

Tennille Gifford, a Business and Technology teacher said, "I have my biological family, but I also have my school family and they're just as important and that's what makes it a great place to work."

For some, working with your family may be difficult. But for these teachers it's been easy.

Kathy Gifford said, "You have to know yourself and the other person in your family to know whether you can work together or not but, I mean, it's been a good match for us I think."

And as for the desire to be teachers, the Carson family believes, "It might be genetic," said JD as his mother Maggie laughed in agreement.