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Fox wraps up 30 years in ‘The Glade’

In the past 30 years, children at Gladeville Elementary have come and gone. Some came back with their own children who had their time as Gators.
In that time, there has been one constant, and that is Monica Fox.
In a few weeks, that era will come to an end as Fox rides off into retirement and leaves her years of educating children behind.
“It is weird, really weird,” said Fox about her time at GES coming to an end. She said the last 30 years she has woke up every night to make a note to herself about something she will need to do for the day. Everything in her day was about the school and making sure everyone is getting the best education, and that won’t be her main driving force anymore.
When Fox got offered her first job at GES, her mind instantly went back to sixth grade at Lakeview Elementary. She was about to move on to Mt. Juliet Junior High, and some friends gave her some advice.
“I was told don’t mess with the Gladeville kids,” said Fox.
They had a reputation for being tough and they all stuck together. She had heard stories about the nights in The Glade at the ball fields, and how you were an outsider if you stepped on their turf. She said when she got to MJJH, it turned out to be partially true as the Gladeville kids did stick together. When she started as job as PE Teacher at GES, she found the community the opposite of the reputation.
“I found the community and the children to be the sweetest, most good-hearted, help your neighbor people you will ever find,” said Fox. “Gladeville is a special place. It’s still a close-knit community.”
Fox said she owes her career to Jane Atwood who was the principal at the time when she was hired. Atwood was the first female Principal in Wilson County, and she took a chance on Fox. That was not only as a new PE Teacher, but eventually as her Assistant Principal. Eighteen years ago, Fox took over as Principal for Atwood.
“I thought how in the world am I going to fill her shoes,” said Fox.
In those 18 years she did fill those shoes with numerous achievements and connections she made with students. She was named Principal of the Year in Wilson County in 2018, and she was one of the nine state finalists for the award that year. They were twice named a Rewards School – 2014-15 and 2016-17.
But one of her fondest memories was one student who she had many conversations with in her time at GES. She had a tough time in school, and Fox would often have to intervene. That former student came back years later with her own daughter and had a special ask of Fox. The former student didn’t have family around, so she asked Fox if she would be there when her second child was born.
“That one brought me to tears,” said Fox. “I was able to be there with her when he was born.”
Fox made her decision around Christmas time that she would retire. The last two years had been hard on her with the COVID-19 restrictions and trying to keep the kids safe while also giving them the education they needed. She said she didn’t want anyone to see how much it weighed on her.
“It was time for some new energy,” said Fox. “That’s exactly what they will have with Rachel Cook.”
Cook will take over for Fox on July 1, and the two have been working together to make it a smooth transition. Cook is a former teacher at GES, and has spent her last few years as Assistant Principal at West Elementary. Fox has no doubt that she will do a great job.
“I’m very excited she will be here,” said Fox.
Fox said that she tells fifth grade students when they move onto middle school “Once a Gator, Always a Gator”. She said that will also be true of her.
“The saying is definitely true. I love this school and the Gladeville Community.”