Hartselle’s teacher legacies
By Susan Hayes
Hartselle City Schools
Federal Programs Coordinator
An article dated Sept. 9, 2022 in The New York Post asserted teachers have such a strong influence on our lives that six in ten adult parents claim they can name every teacher they had in their childhood.
The article went on to claim that “three in four parents credit their former teachers for positively influencing their lives (76%) — such as showing them how to be a better person (58%) or impacting the hobbies they picked up (52%). Half even saw [a teacher] as a role model (51%).”
So imagine the influence that a teacher-parent has on his or her own children – and perhaps even on their choice of career.
Hartselle has many excellent teachers whose only tie to Hartselle schools is the job they hold right now, but we also employ a surprising number of teachers who are legacies.
Mariann Evans Parker teaches first grade at Barkley Bridge Elementary School. She is the daughter of Hartselle teacher Sarah Ann Evans and the granddaughter of teacher Kathryn Thompson Poole. Parker says her teaching legacy has given her great personal and professional satisfaction.
“I saw how much [my mother and grandmother] loved helping children grow in academics and in character. Their joy led me to want to be a teacher, as well,” Parker said.
Hartselle High School’s Randall Key sees his personal teaching philosophy as stemming directly from his teacher-mother Annie Jo Key.
“From my mother I learned discipline, diligence, consistency and compassion,” he said. Key works to bring these qualities into his own classroom and professional practice.
When these teacher-mothers and teacher-fathers were working to take care of the children in their classrooms, it is doubtful that they were even aware of the influence their words and actions were having on their own children at home.
Hartselle Intermediate School’s Brooke Pettey Tankersley says, “From my stepmother I learned a valuable lesson that I carry with me today. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If I am frustrated by spilled coffee or a jammed copy machine or a missed email, I remind myself that what matters is that moment when a struggling student grasps a difficult concept, or that hand-drawn Christmas card from my shy, quiet student.” In her role as special services coordinator, Lee Anne Pettey was reaching more young people than she realized at the time.
Collin Hanners was moved by the former students with fond memories or words of thanks who would approach his father, HHS teacher Jeff Hanners. The younger Hanners credits witnessing these moments with moving him to “serve [his] community as an educator.”
On occasion, these teacher-mothers and teacher-fathers get to watch their children stand before their own classrooms. Advanced geometry teacher Donna Legg-Battles gushed, “It is the grandest privilege of my teaching career to have my daughter teach with me in the math department at Hartselle High School. She is a fabulous teacher and I learn just as much from her as she learns from me. I know the future is in good hands in this school I love so much.”
Daughter Sarah Ellen Battles Anders is equally exuberant. “Growing up as a student in Hartselle City Schools, I dreamed of one day coming back to Hartselle to teach. I never imagined that my math classroom might be near my mother’s. My mother has taught me everything I know, and I am learning everything from her that I can in this time we have together at HHS.”
And among those teachers whose only tie to Hartselle’s schools is the job they hold are many more teacher legacies. Perhaps the teachers who influenced them were not in front of students in Hartselle classrooms, but they were serving students in their own communities. And similar to those above, these second or third generation teachers have their own stories of family members who left a deep impression on them and influenced their decisions to become teachers themselves. We are glad they found their way to Hartselle.
The real power in teachers who come from generations of teachers is an understanding of the lasting effects a teacher can have. Teachers must carry this understanding to school with them every day just as they carry a lesson plan or a gradebook. Crestline’s Olivia Godsey Gillette, daughter of BBES second grade teacher Amanda Godsey and former football coach Bob Godsey, says, “Nothing makes me more proud than continuing the legacy [my parents] began and doing my best to contribute to the legacy of this great school system.”
Hartselle is proud of its traditions. This is simply one more.