Jody Hall, School teacher; Lives between Langley and Wayland, Kentucky:
“I live in Eastern Kentucky, between Langley and Wayland, Kentucky. Been a resident there probably the last four years. I was born and raised in Wheelwright, Kentucky. Wheelwright was the first to have an Olympic sized swimming pool in the state. (That was) when Inland Steel was still a coal company there in Wheelwright.
I’ve lived around the state and without a doubt in my mind it’s [the mountains] the best place you could ever raise a child. Family values goes deeper than family. Your community is your family and to raise a child in that atmosphere is irreplaceable.
Family makes the culture different. You know, people are raised to respect their family, take up for their family, and I believe it’s an understanding that other families are gonna do that as well. It’s kind of a love, love relationship there.
Hillbilly? I love it, call me hillbilly all day! It’s something I’m proud of. It’s our heritage. If you’re educated about what a hillbilly is it shouldn’t offend you. So yeah, I mean, I’m cool with that.
I think it is ignorant (stereotyping) to what we really are. What we’re portrayed as on mainstream media, even movies, most of the time is 99% wrong. You know, come and check us out and see what it’s about and then judge. It’s about living your own life and letting others live theirs. You know, whatever you want to do, you do. If it don’t bleed over on me, I don’t care. That’s like all the political stuff that’s going on now, whether it be the rebel flag or gay marriage or whatever, I’m a devout Christian, but I’m not the one to judge. You know, we’ve got one man that’s gonna do that, no need for me to.
I teach high school social studies at South Floyd High School for 10 years. Sadly, students don’t have an appreciation for the Appalachian culture. The culture that this area has come up with is what you see on TV now. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Eric C Conn social security scandal that is just absolutely a black eye for this region. Being in school systems I see people, or children being raised to follow in the footsteps of parents who have been lifelong recipients of state aid. That’s what they know, that’s what they’re raised with, you know it becomes the thing to do. Where I was raised education was put on the top shelf. My old man wanted me to have a good education and to be able to provide for myself and that’s what happened. But I was lucky to have the parents that I do have.
I lived in Louisville for six years and Corbin for two years. I left [the mountains] once and don’t ever plan on leaving again. I’ve got a wife who also teaches school, I’ve got a two-year-old son and I would love to raise him where I was raised.
I guess, you know, probably the saddest thing that I can see right now is the kids that I teach in school that are living in the communities that I was raised in, the difference in that community now. It is not as prideful, it is not as, I don’t wanna say booming cause where I was at was not a booming city by no means when I was growing up but we did have the bare essentials. You’ve got a Dollar Store, a grocery store, we had the swimming pool and a movie theatre, you know, enough to make it. But the kids don’t have it anymore. They don’t have a lot to be proud of. But at the same time, they’re not proud of what they got.”