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Pupil organized reunion with sixth grade teacher

Posted: October 31, 2012 - 12:02am

Everyone has a teacher who left a profound mark on them.

Joan Gindlesperger tracked down her favorite teacher, Joan Gregory, last year. Gindelsperger, of Evans, found her sixth-grade teacher in Savannah, Ga., and she and two classmates – Ernie Blackburn and Carolyn Trimmier – visited Gregory in April 2011. All three live in Columbia County.

“She was remarkable, she really was,” Gindlesperger said of her English teacher at Wilkinson Gardens Elementary School off Tubman Home Road in Augusta.

Gregory, 85, will make her way back to Augusta on Nov. 10 for a reunion with her 1962-63 sixth-grade class. Nearly all of the 32 pupils in Gindlesperger’s class will attend the reunion at Lakemont Presbyterian Church in Augusta.

“I just can’t wait,” Gregory said. “I’m humbled and gratified by it. Every time I think about it, I get close to tears. ... It’s just a wonderful feeling for them to do all this.”

Gregory said she was shocked when Gindlesperger called her in spring 2011. Since their initial reunion last year, Gindlesperger said she often calls Gregory and visits her whenever she’s close to Savannah.

“She made school fun,” Gindles-perger said.

Gindlesperger vividly remembers performing a play that Gregory wrote, writing an essay about a magazine photograph and square dancing in Gregory’s class.

Gregory, who moved to Savannah in the late 1960s, visited her pupils at a football game just after her move.

“That was the last we saw of her,” Gindlesperger said.

Blackburn, who also visited Gregory last year, said she had a lasting effect on his life. He still takes proper English and grammar seriously and remembers the life lessons Gregory tried to pass on to her pupils.

She praised him for helping a classmate tie her shoe, but also recalls the negative reaction he got from Gregory, who also coached cheerleading and basketball, when he suggested fouling out the opposing team’s best player.

“She got furious with me for that just because it wasn’t a very sportsmanlike thing to do,” Blackburn said. “Every aspect of the teacher-pupil relationship was just incredibly positive. I thought about her so much for decades. It meant so much to see her because in many ways, I never thought I would again. To see her and for her to remember us so vividly, it’s incredible.”

Gregory said that class was one of her favorites before her 1974 retirement.

“There’s a lot of people she wants to see,” Gindlesperger said. “Teachers have their favorite classes and (ours) was one of them.”

Gindlesperger said she’ll have a few special guests and a scrapbook at the reunion. She’s also looking forward to catching up with her classmates.

Gregory said she’s proud of the adults her pupils became and is humbled by the effect they say she’s had in their lives.

“I can’t wait to get there and see all of them,” she said.

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