More than a teacher

Published 10:27 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

I lost a special person in my life this past weekend. Sue Payton, my third grade teacher, went on to be with the Lord.

But Mrs. Payton was more than just a third grade teacher. While I had many great teachers, she was one that stood out from the rest.

Like many young kids, I had already formed an opinion of Mrs. Payton before I ever entered her classroom. This was because I had heard from my parents and others that she was “strict.”

“This is going to be hard,” I thought. Of course, when you are that young you tend to have those thoughts every time you start a new grade.

And I came to find out that she was strict. If we misbehaved, we lost privileges. If the problem continued, we got into deeper trouble. And so on. That might describe any teacher, but let me assure you, if you were out of line in Mrs. Payton’s class, she left no room for doubt.

But as I look back on my education, it was the “strict” teachers that made the biggest impact on my life. I’ve heard different versions of this statement, but it fits Mrs. Payton well — there is a difference between teaching students and teaching children. Mrs. Payton taught children.

She kept up with everyone she taught. Whenever I saw her, she would greet me with a hug and words of wisdom. She always showed genuine concern for me.

Upon graduation, I received an encouraging book from her, which she signed and dated.

Mrs. Payton did this for each of her graduates. If I understand correctly, she had already prepared books for the upcoming class.

I can certainly say that I am a better person for having known Mrs. Payton. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.