Cain Leaves Classroom After 37 Years

Crowley High School family consumer science teacher Myrtle Cain retired in May after 33 years in the classroom.

Dwayne Petry

Crowley High School family consumer science teacher Myrtle Cain retired in May after 33 years in the classroom.

Maziah Zenon, Assistant Photo Editor

Crowley High School family consumer science teacher Myrtle R. Cain decided to retire in May after 37 years in education.

She spent 33 years as a public school teacher at CHS, and she taught for  four years in private schools.

Cain explained what she’s been doing since retiring.  “I’ve been relaxing, spending more time with my grandsons and visiting friends out of town.”  Her three grandsons are Michael David Lee Jr., Christian Joseph Lee, and Jean’ Michel Lee.

She has also continued to be involved in a variety of organizations.  Cain has been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for 49 years, President of the National Association of University Women for 36 years, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for three years, and a member of the Historical First Jurisdiction Business and Professional Women for 15 years serving five years as chairperson and 10 years as assistant chairperson.

Cain said it’s a “bittersweet” feeling to leave the classroom after having taught for over three decades.  “There is a sadness, and I’m sure there were be an emptiness leaving the students that want to learn and that are in need of guidance, care, and concern.  I always wanted to be a teacher who helped someone else out in life.”

After Cain graduated from Crowley High School in 1969, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in vocational home economics education from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (currently the University of Louisiana-Lafayette).

While at CHS she primarily taught family consumer science I and II, nutrition and foods, and child development and adult responsibility.  She also taught a first responder course for a few years.

Her favorite assignment to do with her food and nutrition classes was to have them work on a food project. ‘’Each student would have to choose a dish from a different country, make it, and bring it in,” she explained.  “They enjoyed the different dishes from other countries.”

Another memorable activity was when the students in the child development and adult responsibility class were required to take care of a mechanical baby for a week or two, and Cain could track how the infant was handled or mishandled. The baby would also cry spontaneously, and the student was required to cloth the infant.

She also sponsored the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club.  “One of my favorite activities to do with the club was Adopt-a-Teacher Week. Each club member would pick a teacher to adopt.”  

During that week, the students would bring gifts to the teacher, and each adoptee had a sign outside their classroom door to recognize them.  On Friday, the adopted teachers were invited to a special luncheon hosted by Cain and the FCCLA members.

Cain explained that many things have changed since she began teaching, which prompted her decision to retire.  ‘’I find students resent being told what to do. They can’t accept constructive criticism, and there is a lack of respect for authorities and rules,” she said.

 During her time at Crowley High, she taught both of her daughters, Crystal and Toy.  “I felt like I had to be harder on them so the other students wouldn’t holler or claim nepotism,” explained Cain.  “Most of the time, Crystal and Toy felt it was unfair to them.”

Her favorite hobby is cooking, and her favorite meal to cook is okra, shrimp, and oxtail over rice, seafood, and cornbread dressing. “I love the flavor, and I enjoy eating these dishes.”

Former science teacher Meridian Vallery became close friends with Cain in and out of school while the two worked together at Crowley High.  Vallery taught for 30 years and substituted for another six at CHS.

Vallery explained what she thinks of when she first thinks of her friend.  “She is a teacher that cared about her students and a teacher that demanded respect from her students.”

She and Cain had many good memories together from attending football games and basketball games.  “We are sisters in Christ; we can talk to each other about anything,” said Vallery.

Vallery enjoys Cain’s food.  “I enjoy any food she cooks, but I love seafood more.”

Cain wanted to leave a final message. “It has been a wonderful journey.  If I have touched some lives along the way, it was all worth it. I leave with mixed emotions, but the good definitely outweighed the bad, and I can truly say, from the feedback of former students, I made a difference in their lives. Crowley High will always be special; after all, it’s my alma mater.”