Editor’s note: To read more of retired Gainesville educator Jane Elder’s blog, Ozark Road, visit gainesvillemo.blogspot.com. This post is written in honor of Jane’s former teaching colleagues Patsy Hambelton, who taught business classes at Gainesville High School for many years, and Donna Hayes, who taught first grade at Richards School in Howell County for 38 years.
Good teachers are all around us. Great teachers, ones who live with you long after you have become an adult, come along rarely. These words are written to honor two great teachers. One, a high school teacher, the other an elementary teacher. Both had an impact on the lives of their students that will always be remembered in their communities and beyond.
It’s been said that “To teach is to touch a life.” How very true. We become teachers not because it’s just a job. It is a true vocation...a calling. We feel it in our hearts before we even step into a classroom.
These two women were so dedicated to their lives of teaching it wasn’t hard to tell what a difference they would make.
Tributes are written now that they are gone. How she loved her students and went the extra mile to see that they felt important and wanted. How she put in extra effort to make sure her pupils were well prepared. Listening. Caring. Offering advice. Caring. They demonstrated that servant’s heart we all seek in our lives. These two women had it all.
It’s hard for me to write these lines. One of these teachers was my very best friend. Recently we talked about how she taught her students about shadows on Groundhog Day. Always creative. Never willing to let any opportunity pass that allowed her to teach and love and touch her kids with kindness and hope for the future.
The other teacher was so involved with her students. Especially those who needed extra help. She recognized their strengths and helped them find a way to succeed. When I interviewed her about one of her pupils, her eyes shone with unshed tears as she described this young woman’s potential. A true teacher...always with the future in mind. What a wonderful asset.
And so we say good-bye. Tears flow. We miss them. But their lives live on in what they helped to mold: Futures bright with promise. Bright stars shining above, guiding these people to a better way and fuller lives. A true legacy. And one of which we can be proud.
Rest in peace, dear friends. Until we meet again.