Saturday was special.
Not because it was prom night at Louisburg High School, but because the gala provided students with the opportunity to honor Glenda Beasley, the school’s beloved business teacher who died in an automobile wreck Dec. 19, 2012, on K-68 west of Louisburg.
My son Drew, a junior at LHS whose facial expression never changes in good times and bad, was overcome with emotion when he learned of her death. Drew, who was to take a final in one of her business classes the next day, attended a candlelight vigil for Beasley at the school that December evening, which attracted a large crowd of students, teachers and other townspeople.
In addition to teaching business classes at LHS, Beasley was the school’s prom coordinator each year.
So the school’s auxiliary gym was decorated for “Beasley’s Barn Dance,” with all the Western trimmings. A large pair of purple cowgirl boots marked the entrance to the school for the dance. Signs on the boots read, “Beasley’s Boots: Too big to fill!” and “LHS Prom 2013”.
Beasley told juniors each year that if they didn’t sell enough magazine subscriptions, prom would be held in her barn.
The students’ decision to pay tribute to their former teacher by naming the prom in her honor reminded me of the influence educators have in the lives of our students.
Beasley had a tremendous influence on my son, who had planned to become a history teacher and coach after college. Drew changed his mind this fall, opting to switch his teaching emphasis from history to business, he said, because of how much he had enjoyed Beasley’s classes and how much he had learned from her.
Drew had as much respect for her as he does for his football coaches, which is saying a lot, because he would run through a brick wall for them if they so asked him.
I recall, just days before her death, coming to a four-way stop in Louisburg at the same time Beasley did. She smiled and gave me a big wave. It would be the last time I saw her.
As the school year winds down, I think it’s important that we reflect on the role teachers play in the classrooms and in our communities and thank them for the sacrifices they’ve made and the positive influence they’ve had in shaping our children’s lives.
I’ve had the pleasure to become acquainted with many educators in the Ottawa school district, and I think Ottawa has some of the finest teachers in the region. They deserve our thanks and praise.
Doug Carder is a Herald staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org