JAY ST. JOHN: EDS Teacher 'B' Granger Shaped Many Lives
Teachers shape lives on a daily basis and for years.
All of us can recall a teacher who believed in us, was our champion during tough times, taught us life lessons which may have had nothing to do with academics, were mentors well after we were in their class, and became lifelong friends.
B Granger was such a person. Her first name was Barbara, but she insisted that she be called B. One of my favorite facts about B is that she came as an interim teacher to work at Episcopal Day School for one year. She stayed for 30!
Upon her retirement three years ago, past and current students, parents, colleagues and members of the Board of Trustees gathered to celebrate her life at EDS -- just as they did last Saturday at her funeral, held at Emmanuel Episcopal Church.
Though B had taught third and first grades, she mostly worked as a kindergarten teacher. I loved visiting her class to watch her gentle interactions with the students. She was encouraging, kind, challenging, honest and enthusiastic, with a great sense of humor that reached all. She never raised her voice because she never had to, as she commanded respect.
Several students and colleagues shared their reflections about the one and only B Granger.
"When I was in kindergarten, I was in Mrs. Granger's last class until retirement," current third-grader Bennett Moore writes. "I remember she would never get real frustrated when you did something wrong. She would let us listen to music during nap time and let us play lots of fun games with her. She was always very honest and fair with everyone. I am very sad and disappointed that Mrs. Granger has died. I will always be thinking of her. She was a fun teacher and one of the best teachers to have. I remember that she loved butterflies. I miss her, and I really loved her."
Julie McDonald, a former teacher and current administrative assistant, added: "B was a wonderful mentor and friend to all of the staff she worked with at EDS. The wisdom she shared with her fellow teachers will continue to mold children for years to come. She loved the children she taught and was always enthusiastic about each new year. B will always have a special place in the hearts of her students and friends. She will be missed by so many."
Fifth-grader Sarah Nicholson also had some warm thoughts.
"Mrs. Granger was one of my all-time favorite teachers," Sarah said. "She was a kind, loving teacher and cared about every one of her students. One of my favorite memories was when Mrs. Granger decided to lie next to me at nap time. I just giggled and giggled and couldn't stop. I couldn't get over the fact that my teacher was lying next to me. When I saw Mrs. Granger around campus, I always waved and said hi. I know I can't do that anymore, but she will always be in my heart."
Robin Foster, a kindergarten teacher, said: "When I was hired to teach a newly formed kindergarten class at EDS, I had only heard of the great Mrs. Granger, kindergarten teacher. I was nervous about working with someone held in such high esteem, but after our first meeting, I knew our work and personal relationships would blossom!
"The respect and reputation she had in our community was impressive. B was a dedicated and loving professional. Lucky me, we worked together for 18 rewarding years until her retirement. The presenter at a workshop introduced us to Robert Fulghum's book, 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.' I learned all I really need to know from my own kindergarten teachers and B Granger."
First-grade teacher Sarah McVerry spoke for us all when she said B made her life fuller and more joyful.
"I completely trusted and respected her," Sarah said. "She was wise, thoughtful and nonjudgmental, so I would frequently seek her opinion on how to handle difficult situations, both personal and professional. When something was happening in my life, grandbabies or a new home, B was the first person I wanted to share the news with. She was genuinely happy for me and my family."
B Granger will live on in the hearts and minds of all her students and friends.
Jay St. John is headmaster at Episcopal Day School in Southern Pines.
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