Howard McKnight may not be on the payroll as a teacher anymore, but he is still a teacher. He has been a life long teacher and is recognized around the county as many residents’ former biology teacher at Forbush High School.
McKnight proudly describes himself as a product of Yadkin County.
Growing up on a farm east of Boonville sparked his love for biology. Boonville High School confirmed his love for the subject, and Appalachian State University set him on the road to being an educator with a bachelors of science degree in secondary education.
“I think I knew by the time I left high school what I was going to do and I was going to major in biology,” McKnight said.
McKnight majored, unsurprisingly, in biology.
The first three years of his career were spent in Reidsville Senior High School. He taught biology during the normal school year then went back to Appalachian in the summers to complete his graduate degree.
He earned a masters of arts in biology in 1969.
In the fall of 1968 he came to Forbush High School, where he remained for the remainder of his career. He taught biology there for 32 of his 35 years as a teacher.
“To teach something you have to like what you’re doing,” McKnight said. “And I have a really special love for that subject.”
“I think teaching is something that maybe some people are called to do,” he added. “Not everyone can step into that classroom and teach. They have to have a special desire to do that.”
For the last 15 years he taught at Forbush the students could enroll in the Advanced Placement Partnership (APP) program with ASU and earn college and high school credit through dual enrollment.
He taught that program until his retirement, saying he really enjoyed it because it allowed students to graduate from high school with all of the biology credits they needed for college.
McKnight retired in 2000.
“Of all the 35 years, I can’t say that any one year was not good. I enjoyed all 35 years.”
He spent two years substitute teaching before being elected to the Board of Education in 2002.
In 2012 he became the chairman of the board, the position he currently holds.
He said working with the board prevented him from teaching to prevent the appearance of bias, but he said the arrangement allowed him to help all of the schools in the county instead of just one.
Throughout his career and now in his retirement McKnight continues to love the outdoors and growing plants.
He does yard work and gardens in his spare time, telling the Ripple that he grows more than he needs to share with others.
But gardening has also been a stress reliever during those times when a day of teaching wasn’t absolutely great.
“I’ve always said that if you have a lot of frustrations during the day at work you can come home and beat a clod of dirt all you wanted to and have your frustrations out on that,” McKnight joked.
McKnight still teaches, of a sort.
He is a member of Richmond Hill Baptist Church and has taught a Sunday School class there for some time.
His main joy as an educator has come after the students graduate and go out into the world. He does not have children of his own, per se, but counts himself as the proud “parent” to many in the community.
“Even though I don’t have children of my own I’ve always said that through teaching I had more children than anybody,” McKnight said. “As a former teacher I really enjoy being able to see what former students have accomplished and their success in life. Just to be able to see them and they can share what they’ve done in life - to me that’s a great satisfaction.”
To contact Taylor Pardue call 36-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.