DARDANELLE Patsy George, 81, has lived in Dardanelle all her life but was recently recognized for her longtime work in the community. George was named the 2012 Dardanelle Citizen of the Year by the Dardanelle Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 28.
She said receiving the Citizen of the Year award was the “happiest time of her life.”
George started teaching in 1951 and isn’t looking to stop anytime soon.
Although she did take a break from teaching for a while to have a family, she didn’t stop working altogether.
During her break from teaching, she worked at a bank, was a teacher’s aide and also had a kindergarten in her home because schools didn’t have kindergarten then.
She has three children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“I’m going to teach until I die,” George said. “I’m not going to sit on my couch until I have to.”
She is now the clerk and tutor for Dardanelle Primary School’s Arkansas Migrant Education Program.
Students who have parents who work in agriculture or move to another school within the school year qualify for the program. George began her work with the program in 1981.
“It’s a lot easier than teaching in the classroom because I don’t give tests or punish [the students],” George said.
George works five days a week at Dardanelle Primary School and helps students in the Migrant Education Program catch up on what they’re behind on in their classrooms.
With the Citizen of the Year Award, George said, the people of Dardanelle will be aware of the passion she has for teaching.
“[The award] shows how much I love my students and how much I love people,” George said. “Now everybody else knows it.”
When George started teaching school, she taught first, second and third grades in one room at a country school named Chickalah.
George enjoys the relationships she has with her students and the bond they have from her teaching all of these years.
“I love [when] children meet me in places and give me a hug,” George said.
One of George’s former students recognized her in Walmart a couple of years ago. She said he reached out to shake her hand when she saw him.
“I said, ‘Don’t you dare shake my hand; you give me a hug,’” George said. “He remembered me from 1956.”
Other than teaching, George said, her only hobby is putting together photo albums.
“I have 55 picture albums, and I’m labeling all of them,” George said. “It gives me a lot of pleasure, and it gives me something to do when I’m not in school.”
George said her goal is to label all of her pictures so she will remember the people in them if she starts to lose her memory. She also hopes the photos in her albums will be passed on to other family members.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or email@example.com.