Teachers’ work ‘lives on in their students’

Sylvia Traynham is one of many legendary teachers retiring from Pelham's schools this year. (Contributed)

Sylvia Traynham is one of many legendary teachers retiring from Pelham’s schools this year. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“I used to babysit for your kids,” I said in surprise.

“I remember you,” said Sylvia Traynham, smiling at me.

One August morning in 1995, I expected to take my oldest daughter to meet her kindergarten teacher—I had forgotten about babysitting for a nice lady named Sylvia Traynham years before. While I stood there dismayed, Traynham did what elementary teachers do. She began to focus on the child in the room captivating the little girl who would become the first Nolen child she would teach.

Mrs. Traynham also captivated me.

As a high school teacher, I was fascinated by the work of my children’s elementary school teachers.

Watching kids suddenly grasp a concept and have an epiphany is every teacher’s reward; however, the magic of teaching a child who barely knows letters how to read or teaching a child who barely manages to scrawl unruly lines into the shape of his or her name is mystical.

Mrs. Traynham once told me that she was a little intimidated to send those handwritten weekly teacher letters to an English teacher mom.

I told her that I was mesmerized by those letters.

“I was so amazed at what you taught, the ideas that you had, and the foundation you were establishing that I would never have noticed a mistake,” I said.

My husband and I learned good parenting from Sylvia Traynham.

Mrs. Traynham’s students had to be in bed by 8 or 8:30 every night.

Initially, we were stunned by this bedtime; however, we noticed that our kids became morning people quickly.

Eventually, Traynham taught all three Nolen kids—and many more kids—totaling 32 years in education.

On Thursday, May 14, I caught Mrs. Traynham at Valley Elementary one last time—as her retirement reception wrapped up.

Many other veteran Pelham teachers retired this year including Susan Jackson, Miriam Payne, and Mary Foy.

Creative writing student memoirs relive many schools scenes featuring these teachers and school personnel who have worked so hard to raise our children.

Their work lives on in their students.

These beloved teachers will be missed.