After he retired, David Little could have easily stayed at home and taken it easy.
But with his nephew deployed overseas, he jumped at the opportunity to teach again.
“I realized almost immediately that I'd messed up," said Little, a veteran educator who retired in 2007. "I missed my kids and teaching a lot more than I ever thought I would.”
The 70-year-old is back in the classroom at Southeast Lauderdale High, where's he's filling in for his nephew Chris Harper, who left for a military deployment in Qatar.
"This is my school, my community, my home," Little said. "I love teaching, so I kind of jumped at the opportunity,”
Little is teaching science, stepping in for Harper until he returns.
“He wanted to make sure his kids were left in the hands of a good instructor and asked if would I do it,” Little said. “I didn’t have to think hard about it.”
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Little was raised in the Whynot community, graduating from Southeast in 1971. Growing up, he considered becoming a science teacher, pediatrician or veterinarian. But after some time in the military, he knew edcuation was his calling.
“I felt like I had no other choice," he said. "It's what God wanted me to do.”
Little began his teaching career in Lauderdale County in 1975, eventually serving as superintendent from 1996 until 2007. In retirement, he taught a few years in Choctaw, Alabama and at Meridian Community College.
While he enjoyed his time leading the district, Little missed being in the classroom. The work of top administrator can be challenging, and not as fun as teaching, he said.
“When you are working directly with kids, it feels like you are making a difference – they really appreciate you,” he said. “I regret even leaving the classroom.”
Southeast Principal Russell Keene, who remembers looking up to Little when he was young, said the community is excited to see Little back on campus.
“It is great to have him back here at Southeast,” Keene said. “Is that David Little, is he really coming back?"
Enjoying his time in the classroom, Little plans to return to retirement once Harper returns from his mission.
Beyond that, he's leaving the door open on teaching again.
“If I get another opportunity to come back – which is likely – I will,” he said. “If I don’t, I will be happy too.”