BY EMILY GUEVARA, firstname.lastname@example.org
For as long as she can remember, Rebecca Ferrell wanted to be an elementary school teacher.
When she was growing up, she would make her own pretend school in a storage building attached to her family’s house and every summer that’s where she would begin.
“As a child, I always was teaching my dolls and the neighbors,” she said.
On Friday, Mrs. Ferrell, 65, closed out a 38-year career in education, teaching her final day at Tyler ISD’s Bell Elementary Global Communications Academy.
“Your relationships are the most important thing and mean the most to you,” she said of her career. “Your relationships with the children, the faculty and the parents and I’ve enjoyed all of that.”
Born and raised in Gilmer, Mrs. Ferrell didn’t have any teachers in her immediate family. Her father owned a concrete tile business, and her mother was a housewife.
But from an early age she had the desire to teach.
“There wasn’t really any question in my mind as to what I wanted to do when I grew up,” she said.
Through her own schooling, she had several special teachers including her first-grade teacher “Miss Euda” and a junior high history teacher, both of whom were wonderful, she said.
As a teacher, she has exercised patience with her students and wants them to be successful.
“She truly has concern for her students and she truly tries to do the best for them that she can do,” Linda Malone, Bell’s dyslexia designee, said of Mrs. Ferrell, whom she has known for more than 30 years.
She said Mrs. Ferrell is extremely patient and professional and the epitome of a southern lady.
Retired teacher Carolyn Terrell, who taught at Bell for 30 years, described Mrs. Ferrell as “one-of-a-kind.”
“She puts children first,” Ms. Terrell said. “She has the love of children, and you’ve got to have the love of children to be an excellent teacher.”
On Friday, as Mrs. Ferrell spent the last few hours with her students, some of them shared a few thoughts about their first-grade year and their teacher.
“I really liked how she was really kind to everyone,” Riley Gray, 7, said of Mrs. Ferrell. “She was never rude. She was always nice.”
Oscar Lozano, 7, said his favorite part of the year was when Mrs. Ferrell got a fish to serve as the class pet. He got to take the fish home to be his pet and named it Sunshine.
Brooke Jernigan, 7, said she liked learning about math and science and getting to tell her classmates about the life cycle of a butterfly. She said her teacher was very nice and always helped her.
Garrett Dodson, 6, said he liked that Mrs. Ferrell gave the students fun things to do in class.
Mrs. Ferrell said she decided to retire this year because she wants to spend more time with her family. She is married to Bill Ferrell, who works in public relations, and has a mother who is in her early 90s, four grown daughters and two grandchildren.
“I would just like to be more available to them,” she said.