The 66-year-old Breaux said he still loves his job and still has a passion for educating young adults. In other words, his heart is still in the profession.
But where the heart conflict comes is his real heart, the one that keeps him alive, can not handle the stress of him teaching industrial arts at his age.
Due to stress, his blood pressure is high daily despite medication. His cardiologist is also telling him if he continues to teach, it could damage organs, especially his heart.
Breaux witnessed how the stress has affected his body for the holiday breaks. When school closed for the Christmas and Easter holidays, his blood pressure drops. The day before school began when the holiday break ends, it shoots back up.
“That told me I needed to back off,” said Breaux. “No
matter how much you enjoy something, your physical health is more important.”
Breaux has only taught at one school in Vermilion Parish - the then new Abbeville High School when it first opened in 1969. For 45 years, he has been the industrial arts teacher at the school. He taught everything from mechanics to carpentry to taxidermy.
School ends this week, and Breaux’s official last day is June 30. For the last month, he has been busy cleaning out his mechanic shop, as well as his taxidermy shop. Since 1971, Breaux has been teaching students, male and female, the art of mounting animals. He was able to get the state to approve the class as an industrial arts credit. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was teaching Taxidermy I, II and III with at least 15 students in a class.
But as curriculums changed, less and less students took taxidermy because they were pressed to take other classes. His final year of teaching it, there were less than 10 students learning the art of taxidermy.
The last three weeks, with the help of a group of students, Breaux has been busy trying to finish taxidermy projects for individuals who submitted animals or birds. If there were no way to complete the projects, he was trying to call the individuals to have them come pick up their animals or birds. He had four freezers full of donated birds that he had to dispose of.
There are wild hogs and other mounted animals whose owners he was tracking down. If anyone is waiting on a mount from Abbeville High taxidermy students to complete, they can contact Breaux (256-7936) to check on the status of the mount. He also wanted to thank the community and former students who have donated back to the industrial arts program at Abbeville High.
Breaux has no plans to stop mounting animals despite retiring. Over the last few years he has done less and less taxidermy because of teaching and his health. Well, that is about to change.
With a shop behind his house, Breaux said he will crank it back up and begin diving back into taxidermy. He loves it because it is soothing and it allows him to spend quite time with himself.
There is still one thing he will miss when he does not have to go back to work next school year.
“Working with the students is what I will miss the most,” he said. “I still enjoyed teaching. What I will not miss is all of the paperwork.”
His replacement has been hired by the school board. Danielle Newsome, who comes from the Bunkie area, is hired as the new agriculture teacher.
“My goal is to get everything out of here before July because the rooms will be changing after I am gone,” said Breaux. “After that, I’ll starting fixing my health.”
For 45 years, he’s fixed everything from small engines to BB holes in duck mounts; repairing his heart may be his biggest challenge yet.