Called to teach

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Kathrine Kirby Correspondent

On Oct. 19 Betty Al­bers, long­time Rome res­i­dent and mem­ber of Se­cond Av­enue United Methodist, turned 80 years old. She was sur­prised at the church Sun­day by her son and daugh­ter-in-law with food and a large crowd of fam­ily, friends and for­mer students to cel­e­brate.

“I had no idea that they were go­ing to do any­thing for me,” Al­bers ex­claimed. “We ran out of chairs at the church and we never ever run out of chairs.”

Al­bers orig­i­nally had planned another path for her life, but re­al­ized at a very young age that she had been called to be a teacher. Specif­i­cally, Al­bers said that she feels that she was meant to be there for the young peo­ple she came to love at the old Aragon School.

“A girl that was my room­mate when I was in school in Alabama called me and said that there were nu­mer­ous open­ings in Polk County, Geor­gia,” Al­bers ex­plained. “My hus­band and I came over to Geor­gia where he be­came the bas­ket­ball coach at Rock­mart High School and even­tu­ally taught at the Euharlee School in Polk and I was placed at the old Aragon school.”

At the time, there was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent school sys­tem in Polk County.

“None of the schools that were open when I came to Polk are open to­day — they have all been re­placed by newer schools,” Al­bers said.

Al­bers had stud­ied vo­ca­tional and home eco­nom­ics in col­lege and said that she stepped eas­ily into the role of home eco­nom­ics teacher at Aragon.

“Back when I was teach­ing Home Eco­nom­ics we ac­tu­ally would visit the students at home to make sure they were ap­ply­ing what they learned in the class­room,” Al­bers said. “Be­cause of this I was very close with all my students.”

“One of the students I had at Aragon has fixed my hair for the last 40 years,” Al­bers laughed. “She pierced my ears and col­ored my hair for the very first time as a mat­ter of fact.”

Al­bers said that she took a seven-year break from teach­ing to raise her own chil­dren.

“Home Eco­nom­ics wasn’t like it is now — it was a 12-month pro­gram with no sum­mer break,

Al­bers ex­plained. “I felt very strongly that my chil­dren would need me at home, so I de­cided I didn’t want to do home eco­nom­ics any­more.”

While home with her chil­dren, Al­bers said that she also felt led to take in other chil­dren in need.

“I kept fos­ter chil­dren for years and I think that later it made me a much bet­ter teacher,” Al­bers said. “When I was a teenager there was a fam­ily that kept fos­ter kids and I re­ally ad­mired them. When I was at home with my first son I took in a 32-month-old boy.”

Al­bers said that even though her son was only 16 months at the time the fos­ter child had made an ex­cel­lent play­mate and friend for her son. Un­for­tu­nately, the fos­ter sit­u­a­tion was only short term.

“The child was ready for adop­tion, but was sched­uled for an eye surgery,” Al­bers ex­plained. “I was to keep him un­til he was able to have the surgery and re­cover so that he could travel to his new home.”

Al­bers said that her fos­ter child was adopted one week be­fore her se­cond son was born — a birth­day he shares with her.

“My son has al­ways been the best birth­day present I have ever got­ten,” Al­bers laughed, “We were sad to see the other lit­tle boy go to a new home and tried later to find him, but have never been able to lo­cate him.”

Af­ter seven years off with her chil­dren, Al­bers re­ceived a call ask­ing her if she would be in­ter­est­ing in teach­ing again, but at a com­pletely dif­fer­ent grade level.

“When I was in school there was no early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion — how­ever we had cour­ses in it in the home eco­nom­ics de­gree, “Al­bers said. “They had just started teach­ing kin­der­garten in Polk County so I was happy to go back and teach more Cash­town kids.”

Al­bers said what was most mem­o­rable for her when she first went back to teach­ing was the ter­ri­ble bus ac­ci­dent that hap­pened in Cash­town trans­port­ing students back to the Aragon school dur­ing the con­struc­tion of East­side El­e­men­tary.

“At the time we were not at our kin­der­garten as­sign­ments left — East­side School did not fin­ish their con­struc­tion on time so we were fill­ing in wher­ever we could help,” Al­bers said. “I will never for­get walk­ing into an el­e­men­tary class­room at Aragon school and see­ing an empty seat know­ing that was one of my high school students’ chil­dren. Thank the Lord the seat was empty be­cause all three of those fam­ily’s chil­dren had missed the bus that day and were safe with their mother.”

Al­bers t aught f rom 1971-1999, all in the Polk School dis­trict, mi­nus her short break at home with the chil­dren.

“I loved teach­ing kin­der­garten and I re­al­ized that it was what I was truly meant to do,” Al­bers said. “When I was teach­ing teenagers, I was re­ally sen­si­tive to their prob­lems and I still had their young and starry eyes. I thought I could fix ev­ery­thing for them and of course I couldn’t.”

Al­bers said that she de­cided to re­tire be­cause she knew her grand­chil­dren needed her.

“I wanted to be there for them like I was for my own chil­dren,” Al­bers said.

Af­ter her hus­band’s pass­ing in 2008, Al­bers said that she has kept busy help­ing her sons take care of the grand­chil­dren and keep­ing in fel­low­ship with her church fam­ily. Her old­est grand­daugh­ter cur­rently stays with her when she is home from col­lege.

“Jesse keeps me com­pany,” Al­bers said. “Some­times the uni­verse just gets it right and I tell her all the time it got it right with her and me.”

Al­bers said that if she can give any advice to her younger friends it would be to “get your­self out of the way.”

“I am amazed at how good peo­ple can be if you just get your­self out of the way,” Al­bers laughed. “Love the Lord, love peo­ple, love your neigh­bor and have faith. Your life will be much bet­ter.”

Con­trib­uted photo

Betty Al­bers taught in Polk schools from 19711999 — with a break rais­ing her chil­dren.

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