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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Early childhood educator ending Oakridge career

Betty Garton stood in her normal spot on the morning of Aug. 22, greeting students and parents with smiles, hugs, and words of encouragement as they entered the Early Childhood Center at The Oakridge School for the first day of the fall semester. But after 37 years of service to the school, she will officially step down in June as the center’s director.

“I have loved every minute of my time here,” said the director of the center that bears her name. “A few summers ago, however, I realized that I was slowing down physically and that the time was drawing closer for me to start a new journey in life.”

Garton intends to remain an active part of Oakridge after her official last day on the job. “I anticipate that this will be one of the most memorable years of my life as an educator and human being,” she added. “I’ve said many times — I am not saying goodbye; I’m just changing my job description.”

Head of School Jon Kellam has served at Oakridge for 25 years and considers Garton a mentor and trusted friend. “It’s hard to put into words all that Betty has meant to me and the entire Oakridge family,” Kellam said. “She has truly impacted thousands of lives here, and although no one can replace her, we will conduct a national search for the next ECC director.”

Garton earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in education from Texas Christian University. She began her career as a teacher at Heritage Hall Private School in Lubbock in 1969. She later taught at schools in Roswell, New Mexico, and Burleson. Garton joined Oakridge in 1982 when it was just a few years old and holding classes in the old Handley Middle School in Fort Worth. Since then, Oakridge has grown from 85 to nearly 800 students.

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