An Oiler type of ‘tude

Kimberlann Gilley, Business Manager

After starting and running her own daycare, recovering from Harvey, working at another district, and recovering from a house fire, Mrs. Kimberly Smith, educator, is back teaching at West Hardin simply because she likes being here. 

“West Hardin is home so I miss you guys when I’m gone, but y’all really don’t change that much so it’s nice to come back and feel like I’m back at home,” Smith said.

Mr. Michael Atkinson, educator, has been at West Hardin since he was a child.

“Mom and dad both worked here or did various things. Dad was an administrator for my whole life. So I grew up watching them do it,” Atkinson said.

Mrs. Heather Williams, educator, has a combination of both feelings of nostalgia and comfort from West Hardin. 

“I chose to teach at West Hardin because this is home to me.  I started kindergarten here and continued on until I graduated from high school in 1994.  This is the only school I ever attended as a child, and the only school I’ve taught at as a teacher,” Williams said.  

After working at different districts with many different types of kids, Smith has come to one conclusion about both children and West Hardin. 

“The kids were all over the place, I know people say ‘oh that’s all kids’ that’s not all kids,” Smith said. “ I’ve been at this district before and yall are an amazing bunch. You respect your parents, you respect your teachers, you’re taught well, almost all of you are god-fearing, it’s an amazing community that I’ve really learned to embrace.”

Mrs. Williams views this community in a very similar way. 

My heart will always be an Oiler!  I love this community, the students, and the people I work with.  West Hardin is like family and that is why I love it so much and have stayed as long as I have,” Williams said. 

Atkinson, however, feels that West Hardin is just as average as any other school. 

“I think West Hardin is a lot like other schools in southeast Texas,” Atkinson said.

I don’t think there’s much difference.” 

Smith believes that it’s less about the paycheck and more about the influence you are.

“You have to feel like you’re making a difference and reaching kids,” Smith said. “If I can have a moment where I can teach and brighten someone’s day, that’s what I’m about.”