Renaissance man turns to teaching
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 14, 2008 1:46 PM
John Martindale, right, technical adviser for the distance learning program at Southern Wayne High School, assists students Christopher King and Amber Bowden, both seniors, in a computer program.
DUDLEY -- John Martindale will be the first to admit he's had some really cool jobs.
From a brief stint in the Army to working for a large manufacturing firm and later for a motorcycle dealership, he has seen and accomplished a lot in his 62 years.
But his latest job could be his most fulfilling. He recently took on duties as technical adviser in Southern Wayne High School's distance learning program.
"The thing that brought me to Goldsboro was I was on the lead team that brought (Cooper) Bussmann to Goldsboro. I was the No. 2 man for about seven years," he said. "Then I went to APV Baker and was on the movement team for a whole division near London."
After nearly seven years in the latter job, he considered retirement so he could start his own computer-oriented business. Then he ran into Shelton Davis, owner of the local Harley-Davidson business.
"We talked it up and then I did the Harley thing" for over 14 years, he said. "It was very successful. I did everything. That's what's cool about all my jobs. I never really had set things, just whatever needed to be done."
He is especially proud of his tenure at Shelton's. While he has a Harley of his own and enjoys riding, it was meeting all the people that came through the business that most appealed to him. Plus the fact that the business did so well.
"We were a 14-time Gold Bar and Shield award winner -- Top 25 in all of Harley, presented every year," he said. "We're tied for first in the history of the company."
During his time working with Davis, he saw the business expand, with several locations across the state. But it was time-consuming work, and so Martindale decided to scale back. But that didn't mean he planned to sit back.
"I probably won't ever quit working, but I'm not sure when I'll retire," he said.
His wife, Glenda, a 10th-grade English teacher at Southern Wayne High School, suggested he consider working with her.
"She can retire next year, but offered to stay a couple years if I came out here," Martindale said.
He said he has always had an affinity for education. His wife is a nationally-certified teacher and a previous teacher of the year at the school. Their daughter, Amy Kelly, who teaches at Grantham, has also been a teacher of the year. Son Kevin, in the military, is currently preparing to go to Iraq.
At his wife's urging, he talked with then principal Eddie Radford, who said he had the ideal job for Martindale -- the distance learning lab.
With 19 computers in the classroom, students take assorted language, science and college level classes not available at the school. Most of them also offer college credit.
"It's part of Gov. Easley's expanded learning program," Martindale explained. "By the time you go through high school you can have two years of college. (The program's) in its early years and it's still got a long way to go. It's really exciting to be part of that."
An avid computer buff, Martindale said he's worked up a Web site for the class, complete with a "Bored Student" section which features games approved by the school district for students who have completed their tasks.
He has four online classes a day, with anywhere from two to 15 students in each.
"My role is to facilitate. I tell the students, 'I don't give you a grade, I don't get a grade myself but I make sure you have a good environment for learning,'" he said.
Sometimes he roams around the room, making sure students are on track, monitoring their progress. Other times he is there to answer questions or coordinate the program with Sandy Pettit, distance learning adviser.
In the four years since the program was introduced, Ms. Pettit said she has seen it expand.
"I have seen more variety each year," she said. "Next year we are supposed to have even more colleges come on board" to participate.
Martindale said he sees his job as being a motivator, encouraging students to succeed.
"There's another need in the school environment today -- mentorship. They need a role model. Men are really important in the school system. They can learn some more values from that."
Working with young people has been its own reward, Martindale said.
"It's a lot of fun because they're so ready to learn. They're going to learn something, whether it's what they're supposed to learn or not," he said.
What most appealed to him about the job in the first place is also what keeps him coming back every day, he added. Recalling his own days as a student at an all-male military school, he said he had once aspired to own a day-care center where he could train children.
"I'd love to have done that with my wife. So the opportunity to be out here with her -- we get to carpool and ride home together, to go to events -- that was a big plus. Then I got here and realized just how neat a program it is. Everybody out here is super great. All our teachers are really good. (Principal Dr. John) Boldt is fantastic.
Still, the Renaissance man says he is taking it "day by day."
"I'm not going to stay here if I don't like it," he admitted. "So she (his wife) will ask me sometimes, 'John, are you going to school tomorrow?' I like it. I'm going to keep coming back."
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