The year was 1973. I was about to start the second grade at England Public Elementary School. That year, I was blessed to be assigned to the classroom of Mrs. Helen Bess Braswell.
Mrs. Braswell had as great an impact on me and my education than just about any other teacher I have ever had before or since. It is hard to put into words how special she was to me and what she means to me still.
Mrs. Braswell was incredibly intelligent. We hope all our teachers are, but she was truly at the top. But it wasn’t just her special knowledge that made her special; it was her gift for teaching that knowledge to children that set her apart from most. She taught me how to write in cursive. She taught me phonics. I could go on and on. So many of the foundational blocks of my entire education I received from her. I can’t thank her enough.
I think I was drawn to her because Mrs. Braswell was always such a happy, positive person. Children can pick up on who is kind, who cares about them. That Mrs. Braswell loved her students was never in doubt. She had a cute smile and always a twinkle in her eye. She always had a hug for us when we needed it and encouraging words when we needed them.
It was her ability to teach combined with her love for us that made learning in her class so much fun. She inspired me to want to learn more. I have been fortunate to have many wonderful teachers, but Mrs. Helen Bess Braswell will always be at the top for me. Mrs. Braswell is the definition of what a teacher should be.
This picture is from the 1973-74 England yearbook when I had her as a teacher.