Friday, July 19, 2013

Naomi Washburn Teaching Scholarship

My mother, Naomi Washburn, passed away July 14th 2013. I've been trying to think of what I can do to honor her.  She grew up in a farming family, the second child of seven. Growing up, one of the things that really bothered her was having to be pulled out of school to work the fields. To help pay for her parent's farm, she worked as a field hand. Picked pretty much anything, including cotton. She loved school and hated missing any of it. She was also very smart and even though she missed school, she advanced a grade. This put her in the same grade as my dad.

After graduating from high school, she worked many jobs to put herself through college, becoming the first in her family to attend college. She earned an accounting degree, and after that she and my dad married and started having a family. She wanted to work to help support the family, but she didn't want to leave her children, so Mom and Dad took some hair stylist classes, built a beauty shop next to the house, and became beauticians with her taking care of the accounting and working in the shop next to my dad. One of the stories she loved to tell was about me climbing up to the top of the ladder when they were shingling the beauty shop roof. I was two years old and wanted to see what they were doing. My brothers and I were probably pretty annoying to my parents. Any time there was a big ruckus we'd bang on the wall that connected it to the beauty shop. I'm amazed they didn't kill us as much as we did this.

One of her customers was the current principal at the local elementary school, and she was also one of Mom's past teachers who encouraged her to go to college. She then encouraged her to go back to college and get a teaching degree, promising her that if she did, she would have a job waiting for her. Well, Mom went back to school and got her bachelor's degree in education around age 40, and she was hired to teach first grade at Walnut Creek Elementary by the principal who came to the beauty shop.

One of my perks from this was having even more books to read. She was assigned some pretty cool books to read in college. This was the reason I got my hands on CATCH-22 at age 12.

Mom loved teaching. She loved all of her students and put her whole heart into her job. They became her kids, too. Education continued to be very important to her. She wanted to learn more and do the best she possibly could at her job, so she went back to college evenings and summers until she had her masters degree. Along the way I was blessed to have her as my daughters' teacher. We told her she couldn't retire until the youngest was past first grade! She handled it in such a way that the other students really didn't believe they were her granddaughters. After that, Mom retired because Dad's health was bad at the time. She nursed him back to health, then volunteered at the schools, working mostly with the kids who had reading problems. She influenced  my daughters so much they both became teachers, one working in elementary education, and the other in high school science, while also getting her masters degree.

Mom started getting symptoms of Alzheimer's later in life, and then it became severe.  She still had lucid moments when she remembered us. It was hard to decide whether to remember her with donations devoted to finding a cure for Alzheimer's or to benefit education.  She was a very giving lady and helped many young people get their education, so the family decided to have a scholarship for an Azle High School student planning to become a teacher. If you would like to donate to this, I've added a Paypal button below.  Any amount would be greatly appreciated.

Naomi Washburn Teaching Scholarship