For more than 45 years, Carol Bebout has made educating our children her priority. Her dedication and belief that “every student deserves to be noticed” has made Marion a better place.
The 1971 Marion Harding graduate has inspired thousands of students by gaining their respect and by helping them gain respect for themselves. She unselfishly devotes her time to students by not only attending their school events but oftentimes becoming part of their families.
Any student who knows Mrs. Bebout, knows what “ILMJ, ILMC” means. Every day she tells them “I Love My Job, I Love My Career!” She also oftentimes gives them a “kindness” coin with that message on it. And guess what? Students keep these coins—sometimes forever. They mean that much to them. It is a great message; one that comes from her heart.
At 67 she is amazing—she possesses endless energy and boundless curiosity. She always arrives early, stays late, and volunteers for everything! She has retired twice but always comes back with renewed energy and purpose. She recently accepted the position of assistant principal for Taft Elementary School. She says, “My work is my mission and my hobby. Where some people enjoy golf, I enjoy education.”
Interestingly, Taft Middle School is where her career journey in Marion began. In 1980 she was an instructor at Taft for students with learning disabilities. She always advocated for them and encouraged them to reach for their highest potential. After earning a master’s degree in Administration, she became assistant principal of Edison Middle School and then moved to Harding High School in 1996 as assistant principal and then principal.
She then retired and was rehired as principal for Tri-Rivers Career Center for six years where her kindness and professionalism left an indelible mark on students and staff. She again retired and returned to Taft to share her administrative skills and love for education.
Carol was born and raised in Marion, and except for attending Bowling Green State University and five years teaching in Cleveland and Ada, she has spent her life here. Her husband, Brad, and their son, Steve, his wife, Holly, and their grandchild, Gus, now live in New Jersey. Carol travels there frequently and will move there eventually. However, with her family’s blessing, she is finishing up her career in education at Taft. Of course, she admits she may look for something part-time in New Jersey. Why quit working when you are having fun?
In her career, she has received many honors, such as being inducted into the Harding Alumni Hall of Fame, honored as a visionary bringing robotics to Marion, and recognized for her service to the Black Heritage Council of Marion. “The honors in my career aren’t about me, those are about the people around me who have had an impact on others. They made me look good!”
She added, “I have had the opportunity to be part of an incredibly large educational family. I have attended weddings of staff members and then watched their families grow. I have worked with teachers who were once my students and teachers who were once my teachers. When you live and work for years in the same town, you get to keep up with students. You see their parents at a store and they share pictures and stories. You see the kids of your former students coming to school. It is the circle of life and that is such a wonderful blessing.”
Every moment is a career highlight to Carol, and she remembers a couple vividly. “I had the opportunity to overcome my fear of heights when I skydived with Team Fastrax while I was principal at Harding High. I figured if you have a chance to do something that is once in a lifetime, then you do it!” At Tri-Rivers she learned to drive forklifts, operate robots, and create delicious cuisines. “I loved it all, especially walking into a program lab and having students teach me a skill.”
She says in her career she has worked with hundreds of wonderful people in schools who truly care for students. “I have been able to watch thousands of students grow and go out into the world to make a difference. Each person I have had the opportunity to spend time with has shaped who I am.”
Every person that Carol has known or mentored has been touched by her kindness, caring,
and genuine desire to make their lives better. She is certainly a Marion gem.