Portland High School (PHS) librarian Susan Hinton Creek retired at the end of the school year after 41 years teaching.
Creek began her teaching career at Clyde Riggs Elementary School in 1979, as a fifth-grade teacher. After two years in the classroom, she became the school’s librarian where she served for 10 years before transferring to PHS.
She graduated from PHS in 1975. She began her college career at Western Kentucky University, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education in 1979. She later earned a Masters of Library Science in 1985. She continued her education by completing the Plus 30 level, where she earned certification to teach English.
“I never thought I would do this. My daddy (John Hinton) encouraged me to continue. I’m glad I did because it gave me a solid career when I was living alone raising a daughter,” Creek said.
She worked under five principals at PHS - John Meece, Calvin Short, Janet Grogan, Bob Gideon, and David Woods.
PHS Principal David Woods said,” I have had the privilege of getting to know Ms. Creek over the past seven years. She has been an awesome librarian but more than that - working with our graduates every year, helping our other librarian organize our junior and senior ACT tests, running a book club, and just being there for our teachers and students with whatever they need.
“We all will certainly miss Ms. Creek and her amazing smile, however, she has definitely earned this time of retirement and knowing her, she will live each day to its fullest.”
Creek was more than a librarian. it wasn’t always about books with her. She made the library a welcoming place for students no matter if they needed a good book or a listening ear; she was there for them.
Co-Librarian Michelle Gilliam said, “Susan and I have worked together for 16 years. When I started at PHS, we fell into job positions very easily. She did all the budgets and ordering and I worked with program promotions and grants.
“We have had fun over the years and really enjoyed transforming the library into what it is today. Susan will definitely be missed, but I know she will enjoy her retirement.”
Although she didn’t have the normal retirement reception because of the early ending of the school year, faculty and staff did make it special for her. They surprised her by decorating her yard with professionally made retirement signs, and Gilliam brought her balloons and a cake. The faculty had a zoom conference call where each faculty member displayed a sign congratulating her on her retirement.
Creek said, “I have loved being a part of high school because it is such an important part of the town. I have stayed in touch with former students who have either had children or grandchildren coming through. I have stayed in long enough for this to happen. That has kept me going. It has been so much fun. I wouldn’t want another job. This was the best.”
During her retirement years, she plans to travel. Her daughter Hayley Bland and son-in-law Josh Bland will soon be moving to Chattanooga and Creek plans to be a frequent visitor. She is engaged to Dan Hardin and they enjoy traveling together. She said she also plans to do a lot of reading.