Since retiring from the Ocean Springs School District, Dr. Robert E. Hirsch has become a best-selling author of six historical fiction novels. He wrote weekly columns in the Ocean Springs Record and the Ocean Springs Gazette. And he helped form the Americana Bluegrass band, the Hound City Ramblers, a rare mix of Nitty-Gritty, Johnny Cash, John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Old Crow Medicine Show.
“But I had a great run with the Ocean Springs School District,” Dr. Hirsch said. “I loved every second of it. The only reason I retired after building the new school—because they were going to give me a $10,000 pay raise for a five-year contract—but my high school dream was to write a book. I looked at my wife and told her, ‘You know what? We built this school. I’m done. If I don’t retire right now, I will never write that book,’ and that was the only reason I retired because I love the town. I loved my job. And I loved the school district.”
But he had a story to pen, and that one novel turned into six. Contrition was his first novel, followed by a series of five medieval novels, Promise of the Black Monks, Hammer of God, A Horde of Fools, God’s Scarlett Fury, and Cup of Blood… Bread of Salvation. The five medieval novels depict a Dark Ages Saga of Tristan de Saint-Germain and were originally published through a small publishing house. A larger publishing house picked them up last year and they were re-released in December.
“And now I have retired from writing,” he said. He and his wife, Melissa, who was also an educator, have been married 40 years and are currently living their best-retired life in Ocean Springs. They travel and spend lots of time with their five grandchildren.
And what advice does he have for those starry-eyed high schoolers wanting to change the world by becoming a teacher?
It’s pretty simple, do your research on the teaching field you are considering and investigate its current path. Dr. Hirsch feels the federal government has overemphasized testing for years without steady and substantial results.
“More than 70 percent of the American population says we’re over-testing,” he said. “I’ve done research and I’ve written articles and the government’s response is always the same, to increase testing. I grew up in the hippie era and if you did right things got better. It’s still a wonderful, worthwhile profession. And there are kids out there the same as me. They want to grow up to work with kids, and they want to change the world. My best advice to them would be to be clear on what they are getting into because kids spend more waking hours with teachers than they do with parents. So, know what you are getting into and learn how to positively impact lives.”
This is the final piece of a four-part series about the life and legacy of Dr. Robert E. Hirsch. His amazing story depicts a life filled with courage, hope, and personal champions. And it just goes to show even a young ponytailed hippy with a lot of ambition can go on to become one of the best educational leaders in the Magnolia State and leave a lasting legacy for his teachers, staff, and students for many years to come.
All photos are courtesy of Dr. Robert E. Hirsch.