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To the Editor: There have been two ladies that have been on my mind quite a bit over the last few months. Now yes, of course I could do some internet sleuthing and find their contact information and reach out to them directly, but I want the world to know just what a difference they have made in my life.

Both of these ladies are teachers, and I’m sure at this point have retired, but to me they will always be the sweet sweet ladies I had the pleasure of meeting as a young child. To this date, they still hold the title of my favorite educators, and I have gone on to earn several college degrees so they have had quite the competition. Teachers and their support staff will probably never understand the impact they have on their students, and I was fortunate enough to meet several amazing people who’s calling was to educate.

The first of these I would like to recognize is Starla Ingram. She taught my older sister, younger brother, and of course me. How lucky were we to all three get to experience that! During those years she would switch from kindergarten to first grade with her class. I was in one of those classes 1995-1996 (K) and 1996-1997 (1st) at Bel Air Elementary. Ms. Ingram will forever be the template I use when thinking of a great woman. I will never forget how scared and excited I was during that very first meet the teacher night when she reached down, took my hand, and told me how we were going to embark on a great adventure. And we did. Every day we were learning something new. She always told us we were the smartest class she ever had, and looking back now, I realize that may not have actually been true but we believed it. Every. Single. Time. And yes, I know, a lot of the way children perform in school is affected by home life and several other factors but from what I can recall, many of us went on to be in the gifted and talented, pre-AP, and AP courses. Another great memory I have from Bel Air was every year on the principles birthday he would ride around the halls of the school being pushed in a wheelchair (while rocking some form of Dallas Cowboys merch). But it is all the unique experiences like that that made school fun when we were young.

The next lady I would like to recognize is Mrs. Brown. I was fortunate to be a part of her second-grade class in 1997-1998. Unfortunately, I cannot recall her first name. But I do know she had the softest voice, the most gently hands, and a heart big enough to love the whole world. I’m sure she is an amazing teacher but that is not why I remember her, instead it is for her acts of love to her students, specifically to me. Nearly every morning she did something no other teacher had done for me but I know for a fact is still being done for little girls to this day at schools across the country. On school days, my mother was already at work by the time we left for school, and my father who I’m sure did everything he could would get us ready was just not able to do it all. Before any other students were in the classroom, I would go over to Mrs. Brown’s desk where she would brush my hair and put it up for the day. Most days she would just brush all the tangles out and pull it up into a ponytail, which is still my style of choice to this day. It was such a small act of love but it really did stick with me for life. I am actually crying as I am typing this because it means so much. I can still hear her voice asking if it was okay and can feel the brush as it would gently rub against my neck. Now of course I do recall her actually teaching, but the lessons of love and caring are what I remember most.

Over the years I have had many great teachers, and in fact could almost name them all including the others we met along the way, like Miss Dot and the “Miss Dot wave” at the elementary school. When I was in high school my family moved, and I know for a fact I missed out on meeting some great teachers and coaches there. Athens ISD was full of high-quality individuals.

After graduating high school, I went on to college and have earned an Associates, two Bachelors, and a Masters. And no, I’m not bringing this up to brag, but to use this as a way to point out that I actually enjoy learning and have always enjoyed receiving an education which I believe was set in place as a little girl. With such great role models, one would think I too wanted to become a teacher to help the next generation, but I chose the healthcare route instead. I am currently a Family Nurse Practitioner at an urgent care just outside of Fort Worth where I live with my husband and our two dogs. A portion of my job includes patient education, so in a way I am still a teacher to others and building on the foundation of knowledge their teachers gave them.

Henry Adams was quoted saying “a teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops.” And when I think of these two ladies, this quote rings true.

Thank you to Mrs. Ingram and Mrs. Brown, and to any others that were a part of my education journey, I truly appreciate the work you have put in and the love you had for your students.

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