Karen Derricott, teacher at Bear Lake Middle School, is such a pleasant person to be around; happy and motivated, and personable. She has been teaching in the Bear Lake School District for the past 26 years, has loved every minute of it, and the kids have loved her just as much. However, she has made the decision to retire this year and “move on to fulfill her bucket list.”
Karen grew up in Riverton, Wyo., with one sister. She graduated from Riverton High School in 1975, a member of the Honor Society. She says her fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Kellogg, was the one who inspired her to be a teacher because “he was a teacher who listened and made you think that you counted and meant something.”
After high school, Karen traveled around to different places and worked to support herself. In 1980, she met her husband, Mike Derricott of Liberty, in the lunchroom of Western Zirconium, and they were married in 1982. They lived in Clearfield, Uta., for 13 years during which time they had two daughters, Kasey (35), a nurse in Salt Lake City, and Krystal (33), also a nurse in Salt Lake City and married with two children. Mike came into the marriage with two daughters; Lisa, who lives in Logan and works as the administrator for the school district and has two children; and Janet Mattson, a homemaker and mother of four children and living here in Paris.
In 1994, their little family moved to Liberty so Mike could take over his parents’ farm. At that time, Karen began working for the Bear Lake School District as a Title I aide at Paris Elementary, which she did for 12 years.
Then, when her oldest daughter, Kasey, graduated from high school and went on to college, Karen got her Associates Degree as an Associate of Applied Science/Education Assistant Generalist and began teaching fifth grade in Paris, which she did from 2007-2009. In the meantime, she got her Bachelors Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies through Western Governor’s University. After receiving that degree, she moved to teaching sixth-grade social studies and seventh-grade language arts at the Bear Lake Middle School and did that from 2009-2010.
At that time, they had a reduction in staff, so Karen went back to school and got her Master’s of Science Degree in Special Education and and taught Special Ed for five years at the Middle School. Three years ago, she made the decision to leave Special Education and began teaching seventh grade social studies and seventh and eighth grade art and has been doing that for the last four years.
Karen says, “There is nothing better than teaching because you are interacting with the leaders of tomorrow every single day in your classroom. They make me laugh, they make me think, and they make me appreciate life. It’s just a good feeling to come to work every day excited for your job. The thing is, I still feel great about it, and I want to go out and leave the profession still feeling like I do now.”
When asked what she is going to do now that she’s retiring, she responded, “I’m excited because number one, I get some of my freedom back — the freedom to do what I want when I want without being tied to the job. To me that’s what retirement is. I plan on traveling, spending more time with family members, and relaxing a little more. It’s like when Sunday night comes around and you know you have to work and you know you have to plan and you know everything is depending on you — like you want a break. It’s just time for a break in life, you know. Just a time in life when you can do what pleases you. Retirement to me is just such an adventure I’m looking forward to.”
Karen says her families have always enjoyed being together for activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, and shopping. They also went on a cruise together to Alaska, and they have gone to Vegas a few times. Personally, she likes to spend time hiking, reading, and traveling. Those are her favorite things to do, and she is looking forward to doing a lot more of them.
She says “Bear Lake has a lot to offer people and has been a good place to raise my daughters. I’ve met a lot of nice people and great kids here; I’ve been lucky that way.” But, she says she is looking forward to visiting the people and places she has missed all these years.
She says, “I love the Bear Lake weather in the summer and fall, but it will be nice to travel to warmer places. I do appreciate the sunshine and the warmth! But, I’m moving on to fulfill my bucket list!”