I got to thinking about teachers yesterday when through a “can you believe this” set of email events, I was in contact, through email with an old teacher of mine that I have not seen since about 1981.

Marianne Hawkins started teaching in the Williamson County School system in 1974. The next year, when I was in first grade, her classroom was next to Mrs. Campbell’s first grade class. Lipscomb Elementary School had bought into the “open” classroom” theory so it was like the classes were all together. You could see everything that went on in the class next to you and probably helped cultivate a lot of ADD in kids.

Miss Hawkins was young and lots of fun. All the kids really dug her. By the time I got to fifth grade, she had jumped over there (I guess she tired of Dick and Jane and wanted more “mature” fare) and I got to be in her class.

Miss Hawkins did some babysitting on the side and often stayed with our next door neighbor’s daughter while they went out of town. We were pretty tight with the neighbors and since she was my teacher, I got to spend some neat time with her away from school and boy, was it fun. Miss Hawkins truly loved children and she must not have gotten too sick of me since she hauled us some places in her small, ultra cool car. If memory serves, it was a little Chevrolet of some sort but it could’ve been the Beverly Hillbillies jalopy, for all I cared cause I got to hang out with Miss Hawkins. She even let us call her by her first name away from school.

Miss Hawkins turned into Mrs. Meriweather and “Mom” to a couple of kids, while I moved on to junior high, high school, marriage, Momhood of my own and I have not laid eyes on her since the early 80’s. Even so, I can remember minute, obscure details about her and she was a real role model for a little girl. She told me she had been teaching for 31 years (what?!?!?!) is a mother in law now and was looking at retirement soon. Sheesh, I remember her 28th birthday…I’m sure she does too.

Ironic catching up with Ms. Hawkins/Meriweather yesterday when I heard about a car accident involving my 14 year old son’s History teacher, Betty Peden. Ms. Peden epitomizes dedication much like Ms. Hawkins/Meriweather.

Ms. Peden retired a few years back from Metro Schools. She taught at one of the inner city high schools for something like 30 years. She hated retirement and missed her kids. So she jumped into the Sumner County School system. The thing about that that gets me is Ms. Peden lives in Antioch and Knox Doss Middle School is just about in Gallatin. School starts at 7:30 every morning so no telling what ungodly hour she has to rise and start her treck across town.

Thursday, she left school, probably went home but came all the way back to Hendersonville (or was trying to) for the basketball game that evening when she was involved in a multi-car wreck and is recovering in Vanderbilt with some pretty nasty injuries. I’m astounded that she would want to come back after being there all day. I certainly don’t want to go back to my job in the evening.

Ms. Peden and Mrs. Meriweather are dedicated. God bless them both.