AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – Paul Heslip did a lot of manual labor before he came to the classroom.

“I worked construction out at SRP,” Heslip says. “And then went to individual houses, residential work, then I started doing swimming pools.”

He also built tractors for several years. But then he felt the calling to teach. And he chose middle school.

“I’m by nature kind of a crazy person. And you gotta be that to teach 7th graders because they’re kinda crazy themselves. So it kind of fit in real well.”

Mr. Heslip has a strong connection with these students. He knows he can make a strong impact.

“I remember that in 7th grade, I still feel a lot of the same things that I learned in middle school, were a part of my nature for the rest of my life. So what you build with those middle school years, is really going with you for the rest of your life.”

And he’s seen first-hand proof that his approach pays off.

“The ones that I really enjoy is when someone is like 25-years-old and they come back and they say, ‘you were one of the first people who ever made me feel smart Mr. Heslip’.”

Mr. Heslip will wrap up his career in the classroom in just a few weeks. His legacy with all of his students over the years will never be forgotten.

“I really like the Savannah RiverKeeper and that type of thing,” he says. “Sso I hope that I can get into maybe volunteering for those types of things. And fill that void with helping nature now.”

A well-deserved retirement Paul Heslip. Thank you for your dedication to shape our future leaders.