By Heidy Brosofsky-Weaver
mail@floridanewsline.com

Edie Jarrell walked through the door of her first classroom 40 years ago, and this month, the Cunningham Creek Elementary School principal is walking out — into a whole new world of possibilities, that is.

One of the newest additions to her world came as a Christmas present last year — her first grandchild, Laken. Although Jarrell still has a lot of passion left for her career, she understands the preciousness of family time.  

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After much deliberation, Jarrell and husband Dale decided to pack up the dogs and spend more time in Wisconsin to be near their daughter, Kimberly, and help with her growing family. 

“It is very bittersweet because I absolutely love being an educator and can’t imagine a life outside of the schoolhouse,” says Jarrell, whose daughter became a teacher after seeing “how happy I was in my job.”

Although her job title will change, some things will not. 

“My greatest joy is being a learner,” says Jarrell, who especially loves sitting in on project-based lessons. “That is when I get my jam on,” she laughs, sharing some of the new paths she hopes to explore.

Originally, Jarrell was on the path to becoming a physical therapist at the University of Florida, following her life-long desire to help children with special needs; however, she was “bitten by the teacher bug” and soon graduated from the University of North Florida with an education degree. She then earned master’s degrees in Educational Leadership and Informational Studies, as well.

“I knew I was going to be helping children my whole life,” says Jarrell, adding that the principles of Franklin Covey have helped her stay true to her purpose. To her, the classroom is a microcosm of life, and she found that the key to developing lasting relationships with students is simple: “You learn more by listening. The more we talk, the less we hear.”

She enjoyed a 27-year career as a teacher and administrator at Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary in Duval County before joining the St. Johns County Schools administrative team in 2008, with positions at Cunningham Creek Elementary and Wards Creek Elementary.

While many things have changed over four decades, Jarrell’s goal to help students grow and become the best version of themselves is unwavering. “She is a firm believer in the quote, ‘You create your own weather,’” says second grade teacher, Veronica Fuata. “And she does an amazing job of creating her own sunshine and spreading it.”

Fifth grade teacher, Lauren Olesiak, agrees that Jarrell’s positive, win-win outlook is contagious. “My favorite thing is her spin of ‘you can have your cake and eat it, too.’” Olesiak explains that Jarrell’s version is, “You can have your cake and Edie, too,” and she adds that Jarrell “always makes a way to find a third alternative where we all win.”

It is clear that Jarrell will leave a legacy of living, loving, learning, and leading at Cunningham Creek. And as she closes the school doors for the last time, she will find her granddaughter’s arms open wide for hugs when she walks through the next.

Photos courtesy Edie Jarrell

Edie Jarrell recently as she concludes her 40-year career in education.

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