Carol Hadley has been part of education in Baker for 30 years.
But shortly, she will be starting a new chapter of her life.
“I started here student teaching. Then I did two years of substitute teaching and 27 years in the classroom at the junior high,” she explained.
The life science teacher has also been teaching geography and a life skills class called “Why try.”
But that isn’t all she has been handling in the classroom over the years. Hadley has also taught English and physical science. “Pretty much (taught) everything but math.”
She grew up in Belgrade, just west of Bozeman and went to Dickinson State University in North Dakota. “I met my husband there in college. He is originally from Baker,” she said.
Hadley said the big difference for her has been the landscape. “I grew up in the mountains. It was a small school (in Belgrade). My parents were both teachers,” she explained.
Teaching has played a role in her family. “My brother is a teacher and a principal. My sister is a teacher. The lifestyle as far as being a teacher in a small town is what I grew up with,” she explained.
Even though she grew up in the mountains, she said that she has adapted to Fallon County. “Every area has a beauty of its own. I could do with a little less wind now and then,” she added, with a chuckle. “But after 32 years of being here, I am pretty well used to it.”
Hadley has three children, with all following in the family business. “Our oldest is going to be 30 and he’s taught at Rocky Mountain Equestrian. He’s back home. I have a daughter who is an elementary school teacher. Our third daughter just graduated from college and became a teacher at Medicine Lake (extreme northeast corner of Montana).
Hadley originally planned to be a first grade teacher. “That was where I was headed. I always wanted to teach smaller children. In Baker, there wasn’t a lot of turnover at the time. The first job that came open was seventh grade science.
“I have been in the seventh grade ever since,” she said. “And I love it. I am glad that is where it took me. That age is scary for some people, but I really enjoyed it and stayed there, It definitely is its own little world but I really enjoyed it and I am glad that is where my career kept me.”
Her husband bought a ranch years ago, with the family specializing in horses and cattle. “One of his brothers took over the family ranch. We ranch on our own and he has another brother who ranches on his own.
The Hadley ranch is both in Montana and North Dakota, she explained. “It makes taxes a lot of fun. A mile and a half from my house, it becomes Montana. Our house actually sits in North Dakota. We are about four and a half miles south of Marmarth.”
The ranch raises both horses and cattle, but the horses are a side deal, she explained. “The real money is in cattle. My son trains horses, but the horses don’t make you the money. It is the cattle, they are the important part.”
Hadley said that she couldn’t really be an online teacher for any length of time. “I’d miss the kids. I like the interaction with the kids,” she said.
When she finally leaves the Baker campus for good in the near future, there is still plenty of activities for her to spend her time, even in a time of social distancing. “I walk. I cycle. I have always been an athlete. I have coached every sport in Baker that there is – basketball, track – and I was the head volleyball coach for 15 years,” she explained.
“I like to stay active. I have a Peloton bike that I ride at home. I use a road bike quite a bit, but that can be a little scary. I have painted my entire house... except for one room.
“I am quarantined so I have been very productive,” she added.
Hadley also said that her life after teaching will take a slightly different turn, starting work at the Stevenson Funeral Home. “I am retiring but just going on to a new career,” she explained. “I worked there last summer, then on and off during the year when they needed help. I will become a full-time employee in June.
“I will be working with the public some and also whatever they need me to do. I help with all the funerals and with the preparations,” she said.
“Honestly, what I am going to do with my free time is I have three grandchildren and one on the way. So we are going to spend a lot of time with grandbabies,” she said, but noted that she hasn’t seen them for more than a month because of the lockdown. “It is not good,” she added with a chuckle. Still, she is using the computer to keep tabs on her family daily.