She has stood like a smiling sentinel at the corner of the fourth/fifth grade hallway for 16 years, never a different room. The hat she has worn as a fourth grade teacher is not her only hat, literally or figuratively. She has been a school superintendent and a principal in her past lives. She is a mother, a grandmother, a wife for half a century and a teacher just shy of that length of time, 49 years. Mrs. Evans is a legend in our building. You will hear her infectious laugh in the hallways and her lovingly calling everyone from our Assistant Principal to parents to the child being a bit naughty in her class “Sugar” , in a lovely southern drawl. No one knows how old she is (a lady never tells) but her heart and wit are that of a twenty year old. When asked the secret to her longevity in the teaching profession, she smiles with a twinkle in her eye and simply states, “endurance”.
Mrs. Evans is retiring today. Bettye Jean Evans is off to new adventures and wasting no time in packing up husband and home to hightail it to Virginia. The draw of course is her grandbabies and her children. That will fill a part of her time, however, she is not a woman content to waste away hours watching soap operas. That just wouldn’t do for Mrs. Evans. She is going to do what she has done best; sharing her heart and mind and love of teaching with the world through her writing. I am certain we will we see her book on the NY Times Best Seller list in the next few years.
It will be strange walking into our school in August, passing the corner of the fourth/fifth grade hallway without seeing her there. But her presence will be felt long after she has physically left the school. It will be seen in the faces of all the students who passed through her doors. It will be remembered by all those she worked for and worked with over the years. Most of all, it will be carried on through the wisdom she shared with other teachers who taught beside her. Bettye Jean Evans will be written on all the hearts that she touched over 49 years of teaching. It is a legacy that will endure.
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