When Tracey Edmundson Ivey retires in a few weeks, she plans to trade in her high heels for work boots on the family farm.
The vice president of institutional effectiveness and innovation at Wayne Community College is a teacher at heart.
A proud third-generation educator in Wayne County, she says she followed in the footsteps of her grandmother, Dixie Edmundson, and mother, Phyllis Edmundson.
"My grandmother taught elementary school, my mother taught high school chemistry and physics, and I started out teaching high school history," she said.
Growing up, she said she naively believed that everybody taught.
She started playing school before she was old enough to be a student herself.
"I taught my teddy bears. I attempted to teach my cats," she said with a smile. "I had the little chalkboard. Even before I went to school, I was trying to teach.
"I really kind of thought it was interesting that when I'd go to people's houses to play, that they didn't have red pens because red pens were always available at my house, at my grandmother's house."
The profession was such a part of the fabric of her life that it felt natural to be in her mother's or grandmother's classroom.
"My mother taught me (at Charles B. Aycock High), my grandmother taught two of my brothers, and I taught two of my sons," she said. "So teaching relatives was the norm.
"There was no way if you were raised in Wayne County and teaching in Wayne County, it was very difficult not to have a relative (in class)."
By the time she reached fourth grade, she knew exactly what she would teach -- history, her favorite subject.
She went on to get a teaching degree, a master's in history and, in 2009, her doctorate in educational leadership.
She taught high school for eight years, in both Pitt and Wayne counties, locally at Rosewood and Eastern Wayne high schools.
She decided to give community college a try when a teaching position came open. At the time, she had been teaching part-time on base at night for WCC and found she enjoyed it.
Even though the role led to several promotions -- from history professor to department chair, dean of arts and sciences and her current position after being actively involved in the college's accreditation process -- she admits she misses teaching high school.
"I like teenagers, and I liked seeing the transformation that they made, particularly from the 10th grade to the 12th grade," she said. "They have an interesting perspective on life because they're not quite grown but they are grown. The rose-colored glasses, maybe. I just really enjoyed that age group.
"I always felt like that first day of class, that's what I'm going to miss the most because everything's possible on the first day of classes. Everybody's got a clean slate."
She has enjoyed being at the college, she said, both in the administrative role as well as getting to teach older students -- the variety of ages that can make up those classes. The conversations that emerge among the varying ages have been particularly interesting, she said.
"Like teaching about Vietnam," she said. "When I taught Vietnam at the high school level, that was ancient history.
"Teaching here I had people that had memories of Vietnam and watching it play out on the television every night. It just brought a different flavor."
After a 32 and one-half-year career -- 30 of those in the classroom -- she is retiring Feb. 28.
"I have got a countdown clock on my phone," she said with a laugh.
It seems like the right time, she said, because she is still young enough and healthy enough to do other things, like participating in Rotary Club and being a volunteer.
She will likely follow the advice of her husband, Mitch Ivey, to take the first six months off to enjoy it.
"I don't think of retirement as doing nothing. I think of retirement as doing something different. I'm not slowing down. I will be speeding up," she said.
She already has plans for that first day, though.
"I will go to my mother's that first morning and have coffee with my brothers, decide if they need me or not," she says of the family's Fremont farm, run by older brothers Don and Chuck. "I'm the baby, so they're excited about telling me what to do.
"I laugh and say I'm going to be a field hand. I'm going to do whatever they tell me to do -- cutting pastures, cows."
She is also the mother of three boys -- Ben, a technical writer in Raleigh; Cade, a graduate of West Point Academy now deployed with the Army; and Matthew, pursuing his secondary teaching degree from East Carolina University.
"If he decides to teach in Wayne County, he will be fourth-generation," Ivey said of her youngest.
The passion she felt as a young child for being a teacher will not be extinguished, she said, expressing gratitude for getting to spend her professional life doing what she wanted to do.
"My grandmother said that there are people who were born to be teachers, born-again to be teachers, meaning that you can train them," she said. "I hope that in her eyes, I was born to be a teacher because I sure have loved it."