Skipper retires from Fort Dale after 24 years

Published 6:29 pm Friday, June 2, 2017

She’s trained 24 years’ worth of students how to crunch numbers and travel the information superhighway, played the piano for numerous school events and served as sponsor for a half-dozen school-related activities and programs.

And now Fort Dale Academy’s Pat Skipper is moving on to a new chapter in her life.

The veteran teacher retired at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, and you could say she definitely went out on a high note.

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Skipper was named AISA Teacher of the Year for the second time in her career.

“I received the same award in 1998, but to receive this award again almost 20 years later has been ever more special,” Skipper says. “It was an honor to be named Teacher of the Year and to represent the other Fort Dale teachers.”

During her time at FDA, Skipper taught computer classes for every student K-5 through 6th grade and in the 9th through 12th grades, along with high school accounting courses and yearbook.

But as the family of every teacher knows, there are many duties outside classroom instruction for most educators. In Skipper’s case, she has served as sponsor for the Fellowship of Active Christian Teachers and Students (FACTS), the yearbook, “See You at the Pole,” the FDA Technology Fair team and the school’s annual junior and senior high beauty pageants. A gifted musician, she has also played for numerous school events, including graduations, Christmas programs and club inductions (“I started playing ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ when I was a student at Evergreen High School and I’ve been playing it ever since”).

Skipper is also a member of the school’s technology committee, training a student each year how to update the school’s website and helping provide tech support to students and teachers alike.

“It’s been neat to see the progression of technology since I first came to FDA in 1993. It’s been so interesting to watch the school go from five Apple iie computers to all that we have today,” Skipper says. Keeping up with the ever-changing technology has been, she admits, her greatest challenge as an educator.

And her greatest satisfaction?

“Definitely, it’s the day-to-day interaction with my students. Over the years I’ve seen students succeed in business-related subjects when they may not succeed in other areas,” Skipper explains. “I am convinced each student has a special ability and I delight in helping develop that talent.”

She also takes great delight in her family. She and husband Tim’s three children, Nathan, Patrick and Laura, are all FDA and Auburn graduates, and now their grandchildren—Eden, 11, Logan 9, Natalie, 8, Micah, 6, Sarah Catherine, 5—are all students at FDA, with two-year-old John Patrick sure to follow in their footsteps. The school is akin to a second home for the Skippers and their offspring.

“FDA is a special place and it truly has a family atmosphere. There are so many teachers, coaches and staff members who have touched not only my life, but the lives of my children, and now, my grandchildren,” Skipper says. “Tim and I have attended many ballgames and other school events over the years. And I’ve observed as the FDA family cheers for those who succeed, uplifts the fallen and comes to the aid of those in need. I’ve been blessed to be a part of this family. I appreciate all the encouragement and support I have received from Mr. Brantley, the school board, faculty and staff. Looking back, I hope I have been able to be a positive influence in my students’ lives, not only in the subject matter that I teach, but also in the values I strive to present.”

While Skipper is retiring from her daily teaching duties, she plans to stay active in the community while helping care for her aging parents.

“I am organist at First Baptist Church and a member of their handbell choir. And I will be working part time for my husband’s company MTI, along with my two sons. I so look forward to spending more time with my family—and especially, our six grandchildren.”

She admits she will greatly miss her Fort Dale family.

And if the school needs someone who knows “Pomp and  Circumstance” like the back of her hand?

Skipper smiles. “Oh, I do plan to play if I am needed.”