By Gene E. Herrick
Gene E. Herrick is a retired Associated Press journalist who lives in Rocky Mount.
From the beginning of time, teachers have been the silent heroes to the children of the ever-changing world.
Of course, like most things, some are very good, some are good and once in a while a few are in the wrong profession.
Teaching is a profession of special people who choose that way of life because they really care about the young minds they have chosen to help develop in hopes of making mental development exciting, and at the same time rewarding.
To be a good teacher, one has to ignore the cost of their own education and preparation for one of the most thankless and poorly paid professions going. They receive little support from the children’s parents, and seldom from the upper echelons of the system. They worked hard and with long hours, get their “kicks” from the children with whom they spent many hours.
However, and however is important, teachers often receive rewards in different ways. No, not money, gifts or trips, but once in a while from some former students and their families they meet out in public.
An example of this is long-time former teacher Kitty S. Hylton, who did the classroom battles for 30 years plus 10 more substituting. She taught briefly in Vinton, then Roanoke ending her tenure at Rocky Mount Elementary with the later substituting at various Franklin County schools.
Her long-time friend and companion witnessed some of the jewel memories and events she has experienced usually in restaurants, or shopping centers. It makes his emotions bubble as former students not only come up to her with obvious love and respect, but also remember her name. However, Ms. Hylton also remembers their names even though she last taught school 30-plus years ago.
All of the former students have been complimentary, and many site various events they remember in the classroom all those years ago. Other teachers often experience the same.
Recently Ms. Hylton was in a local restaurant enjoying a special when a lady — just younger than 50 — approached the table and lauded Ms. Hylton for all the good memories she was told by her sister. She said they remember, and laugh all the time about of the retired teacher’s former tricks to get the students to calm down.
“We need to get quiet or else you all will have to stand on your heads and gargle peanut butter,”she recalled hearing Hylton say, adding this was just the funniest thing they had ever heard.
“Miss Kitty,” as Ms. Hytlon is usually known, felt her heart beat faster, almost coming to tears at the long-ago rememberance. She smilingly accepts the thanks and the idea that she is one of the many teachers who made a difference.