Tara Van Hauen – When you’re a little kid and your whole life changes, those few things that stay constant are things you never forget, that make the biggest impact, and that you cherish forever. For me, one of those constants is Steve and Terrie Elkins. They have been there since I was born…and oh the stories they can tell! “Miss” Terrie’s favorite about her and I was probably the time she was babysitting me when I was a very little girl and what happened to my Granny’s white rugs (that’s all I’m saying). They have loved my family, fought for us, protected us, been right there with us through it all….constant. Today, Miss Terrie went to be with Jesus. I will miss her smiles, her wit, her laugh, her stories, her insight, her quick comebacks, and funny little comments. I will forever admire and remember the ways she loved the Lord, Bro. Steve, the church, her job, and her family. She made more of an impact then she could have ever known. I only wish I had told her more how much she meant to me and how much I love her. It’s a blessing to have people like the Elkins in your life for 33 years!
Jon Isam – I’m terribly sad right now! One of my favorite teachers in the world passed away in her sleep this morning. Mrs. Elkins was an amazing woman! She taught me so much more than just school stuff. She really toughened me up as a young man and helped me in my life more than anyone will ever know. I’ll miss the times we had in 6th grade when she would pull me out of class to go to her office and she would give me M&M’s and Dr. Pepper and we would just make each other laugh! I’ll miss seeing her out and about at different places and get my hugs from her! I love her with all my heart. Enjoy heaven!! YOU DESERVE IT! Today you got to hear the words that you used to tell me about! “Well done”
Sarah Nation – When I entered the 6th grade, I was so scared to be in Mrs. Elkins class. I heard she was a tough, no-nonsense teacher. What I found, was a strict but loving teacher. What I found, was a woman of God who cared for her students as if they were one of her own. What I found, was one of my favorite teachers, ever. What I found, was a woman who sent me wonderful and encouraging messages on Facebook, decades after having me as a student.
I’ll never forget the first day I came to class with braces on my teeth. I was so worried my classmates would make fun of me. As she led the class in prayer, she asked God to give me comfort and to not be afraid to smile.
So, Terrie Elkins, my heart is so very sad to hear of your passing this morning, but I’m going to do my best to smile. And I’m so thankful to have known you. As much as you comforted me all those years ago, I now take comfort in knowing that you’re in heaven.
Joey Streight – How do I say goodbye to the woman who gave me my voice?
I was a 9 year old little boy. A little boy who, to be honest, didn’t feel like he fit anywhere- not my old school or my family’s new church or even my own family, really. I was a 9 year old, lost little boy who was starting the 3rd grade at yet another new school. This wasn’t new. I had never attended the same school for longer than a year up until then. I did okay, I think. I had some friends everywhere I had been. None of them close- I didn’t really know how to do that yet. I didn’t even know where *I* fit yet, after all. How could I begin to know where anyone else fit in my life? This isn’t to say I had a bad life, or didn’t have people in my life who loved me because neither of those things were the case. I was, really, just lost. I was, to be truthful, expecting to spend another school year just sort of getting by and maybe making a couple of friends and then doing whatever it was that I did in my free time (I honestly don’t even remember what I did for fun up to that point). I certainly wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen to me.
To be honest, when I first met Mrs. Elkins I was a little scared (she will have to forgive me- the 3rd grader that’s alive and well in my soul could never get used to the idea of calling her Terrie no matter how much she told me to, as an adult). She wasn’t what that lost little 3rd grader was expecting. She would just LOOK at you sometimes. It was a look that initially inspired terror in that unsure, scared 9 year old. I eventually recognized, as an adult, that it was the look of someone who wasn’t seeing a classroom full of babies (because as the father of a 7 year old I realize now that’s exactly what we still were, even at that age) but, rather, unrealized potential. She saw FUTURES. She saw little people from different backgrounds and places, some with very real difficulties, who deserved to be nurtured and loved and taught and given every chance that she could give them, to realize their potential. She didn’t see herself as simply a steward to help usher us on to higher grades and to be someone else’s problem. She set about trying to help us find our path and find ourselves. I remember feeling off-balance for a long time because I couldn’t really remember someone taking such a consistent effort to engage me and challenge me. She was always gently poking (and teasing) at us to make sure that we weren’t just doing stuff the way it was supposed to be done but that we were learning. She was always drawing our attention (and many times everyone else’s) to what we were doing or saying in an effort to make sure that we were really AWARE of ourselves and why we were doing the things that we were doing and- for a small herd of chatty wide-eyed third graders, that was new. I remember her finding ways to incorporate our surrounding to help deal with students who were having difficulties. She understood how to reach us and get results instead of swinging the rule book like a hammer to bludgeon us into order. I remember feeling like I’d won the lottery when we found out she was moving to teach the sixth grade. That was an equally important transitional period for us as we were about to take a leap into middle school. We were growing and maturing and I can’t think of anyone better to hold our hands as we made that jump.
So- how do I say goodbye? See, what she did for me personally was something I’ll never be able to repay. She single-handedly gave birth to my imagination. I can trace my writing voice, my creativity, and even my sense of humor directly back to her. She gave me a deep love for both the fantastical and the nonsensical. I learned to LIVE for the time in class she took to read aloud to us (PSA- read aloud to your kids, even if they can read themselves), in BOTH grades. Judy Blume and Roald Dahl became some of my earliest influences despite probably never reading a word of their works with my own eyes until I was an adult. I didn’t NEED to- she was an unparalleled story teller. When I read to my children I hear her voice in the way that I attempt to bring a story to life, the way she was able to. I have to credit her largely for my love to read. If they still exist, you’ll see my name LITTERED all through the school’s library checkout cards over a period of several years (she’s probably also indirectly responsible for quite a bit of fundraising via all of my library fines). An hour or so a day ended up just not being enough for me. It soon turned into sneaking my lamp on after my mom went to bed to stay up late at night to read. She taught me to love and respect language and it’s use. She also taught me to appreciate and love art. I still have a picture that I drew while I was in her class. I don’t still have it because it’s particularly great (I’m not sure very much 6th grade art is) but because I remember sitting down next to her while she taught me to use a tissue to get the kind of shading I wanted but that my frustrated 12 year old self just couldn’t figure out. Maybe most importantly she taught me that making a mistake was okay and that having a little laugh at myself was the best way to get over it. She taught me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me for being shy and even a little scared. She taught me that I had something to offer. To be honest, I’ve lost sight of some of those lessons at times during adulthood but even in her passing she has found a way to gently tease me and remind me, so-
How can I say goodbye to someone who really isn’t even gone, for me? I’ll carry her and the things she taught me for the rest of my life and hopefully so will my children.
Oh! Also- who teaches sixth graders the Grecian urn joke? Her, that’s who. The fact that none of us got (or knew what an urn was, probably) was funnier to her, than the joke.
So, you teach school for twenty-five years and wonder if you have made a difference or you are observed for thirty-three years. Young, influential, malleable gifts of God watching what you do, hearing what you say, seeing how you react. Is your walk important? I say that it is. We all have some area of influence. Are you making the most in your sphere? Let me encourage you to live a life that changes lives!!!
Sarah Nation said Terrie treated them as if they were her own, today…”her” children shall rise up and call her blessed – Proverbs 31:28
Updated 12/13/15 I found these notes that I wanted to add:
Lisa – Thank you for the time that you’ve invested in Kianna this year! I know that she is a better person because of the influence that you’ve had on her life. I am so thankful for the positive role models in her life. We are blessed!
Kianna – Thank you for the time you invested to teach me. You have been a great influence in my life. I greatly appreciate all you have done. I love you so much!
Lindsay Nunes – What A Teacher! Last year, I thought that Mrs. Elkins was the best teacher in the whole world! She impacted my life by helping me have a lot of fun. Not only did she help me have fun, but she taught and explained everything to me very well. The things I remember the most about her are her funny stories, Petey, her bear, and the way she taught her lessons. I loved Mrs. Elkins as a teacher, and she was absolutely my favorite one.
I think that I want to talk about Mrs. Elkins’ funny stories first. This story is about a talking squirrel. Once, there was a squirrel that Mrs. Elkins’ dad caught in a humane trap in his back yard. He got the squirrel and put it in a park. All of a sudden, the squirrel looked at him and said, “Paul, why’d you do it? These are not my trees, this is not my home, and these are not my friends. Why Paul? Why did you take me?” Everyone still asks if this story is true. Mrs. Elkins has many more great stories, some true, some false.
Now I will tell you about a bear that is very important to a teacher. Mrs. Elkins has a furry, caramel-colored friend, whom she calls Petey. Petey is cute, and has belonged to Mrs. Elkins since her childhood. He lives in Mrs. Elkins’ classroom closet. He is fun to play with and makes me happy when I feel sad. I still like to try to visit and hold him every once in a while.
Finally, I will tell about Mrs. Elkins’ way of explaining and teaching. Mrs. Elkins taught by letting her class read the text books aloud, and then she would go into detail and really explain the words that the class read. After she taught, she would give an assignment over the reading. Whenever I was struggling with an assignment, she would explain it to me in a personal way that I would understand. When Mrs. Elkins taught, she did it with a passion as if it was for God, and that was what I loved the most about it.
All in all, I loved Mrs. Elkins. She is a great Christian, a great teacher, and a great over-all person. The reasons I wrote about Mrs. Elkins are as follows: her funny stories, her bear “Petey”, and the way she taught her lessons. Mrs. Elkins was absolutely my favorite teacher. I conclude that she helped me understand more about life and about Christ. Without Mrs. Elkins, I probably would not be the person I am today.
Lindsay, without Mrs. Elkins, I wouldn’t be the person I am today either!!