Jackson Elementary first grade teacher Sue Tunnell and learning specialist Betty Morris have each spent the last 30 years of their careers instructing students in the Pauls Valley School System.

Now, with over seven decades of teaching between them, the beloved educators have both decided to call it quits upon the completion of the current school semester.

During a recent visit, both instructors shared some of their most memorable experiences and offered some advice to people who would like to help enhance a child’s education.

“My fondest memories include teaching in the one-room school at the Alternative Academy, working with children who are eager to learn and reading with the first graders,” Mrs. Morris said.

“I think parents can help their children’s education by reading with them and have them read to you each day. And it’s important to make learning fun at home and everywhere you go. Read signs, labels, books and newspapers in stores, restaurants and cars.”

Mrs. Tunnell also stressed the intense joy she has derived from — and the great value she places in — reading to students.

“The company of children I’ve known has been a great source of pleasure to me and I will especially miss reading to them. My main attention has always been to teach my students to read and when they did learn to read we could both rejoice together,” Mrs. Tunnell exclaimed.

“I would advise people who have some time to devote to a worthy cause to come to the classrooms and help the students with their reading assignments. Anyone who can read is empowered for the rest of their life and the vast and beautiful world of the printed word is wide open to them.”

Despite her obvious emotional attachment to her job and students, Tunnell said she is looking forward to her retirement and has handled her forthcoming departure quite well — for the most part.

“I was feeling pretty smug about a month ago, thinking about retirement and sleeping late and not having to grade papers, when one of my boys brought me up short,” Mrs. Tunnell recalled.

“I was reading to the kids when he looked up and said, ‘Mrs. Tunnell, what are you going to do next year when you don’t have any more kids to read to?’

“It brought tears to my eyes and I just had to get up and walk out of the room. I wasn’t cool anymore.”

According to Elaine Kennedy, Jackson Elementary principal, a special honor has been bestowed upon Mrs. Tunnell in recognition of her years of teaching in the Pauls Valley School System.

“Mrs. Tunnell will be retiring this year and we would like to honor her dedication to the children of our district in a very special way,” Kennedy announced.

“Mrs. Tunnell believes every child can learn to read and she lives according to that philosophy. To this end, we would like to rename our elementary library, The Sue Tunnell Children’s Reading Place.”

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