Pride of the Pine Belt: Rethea Funchess

HATTIESBURG, MS. (WDAM) - The Center for Child Development is a busy place in the summer time, with lots of kids having fun escaping the heat by running though sprinklers and blowing bubbles.

Lead teacher, Rethea Funchess, was at the center of all this bustling activity on Friday.

According to Funchess, "I love children and I believe that leaving here is going to be really touching for me and I know the door is always going to be open for me to come back."

Funchess has been teaching four and five year olds the basics they need to prepare themselves for kindergarten for over thirty years.

The center cares for babies and kids up to five years old, whose parents work at Southern Miss or in the Hattiesburg community.

"Parents have come back and said, thank you Ms. Rethea, my child is doing a great job in the classroom. They are listening, their grade points are very high because they have had a good beginning," said Funchess.

A life long Hattiesburg resident, Funchess started her career teaching elementary students, but found her professional home at the Center for Child Development.

Funchess said, "I've done what I've needed to do here, so the opportunity has come for me to say goodbye to the children but I'm not gone, I'll come back."

After she retires later this June, Funchess plans to relax a bit and continue her work by helping out fellow Hub City teachers.

Copyright 2011 WDAM. All rights reserved.