Anna Faye, You Were the Best!

Junior high school is a crucial time in a student’s education. Students must learn the basic skills that serve as a foundation for success in high school and beyond. Most people believe that math and English skills are absolutely the key determinants, and I wholeheartedly agree. No one could have been a better teacher in these two subjects than Anna Faye Stevenson, who taught junior high math and English for 18 years at Darlington from 1957 to 1975. Her teaching and influence on our education had a profound impact, and made all of us better students.

Mrs. Stevenson, like other outstanding teachers, was firm and demanded respect, yet she was always helpful and made her classes interesting. She stated, “The thing I enjoyed the most about teaching junior high was watching the maturing of the boys and girls from the time they came into my classes until they left the eighth grade. I tried to develop within the students good reading and study habits, and I tried to develop an appreciation for worthwhile reading material and knowledge of math skills…I always tried to get my classes started as soon as the bell rang. I was in control of the classroom and was firm in making decisions…As a teacher, I felt it was up to me to see that my students both enjoyed school and saw the importance of getting an education. I made my classes interesting and tried to stimulate the students to do their best.”

Mrs. Stevenson told me that she enjoyed teaching at Darlington because of the smallness of the school. She felt that she really got to know the students and their parents. When Anna Faye retired, she decided not to substitute teach, as she felt a sub has difficulty maintaining control for one or two days at a time. I think Mrs. Stevenson wanted to remember her teaching the way everyone else does…the perfect classroom. Here’s what a few of her former students had to say:

“Mrs. Stevenson made my adjustment into junior high. I loved her teaching English, literature, and math. She was always neat in her appearance, and she made a great role model to pattern after.”

“Besides being knowledgeable, she was probably one of the most patient and understanding teachers ever. She was very sensitive to the students’ needs and provided a lot of encouragement.”

“Mrs. Stevenson was a good teacher who had strong discipline and could get her point across. There were no favorites in her class. She was a very caring and devoted teacher.”

“Math wasn’t my favorite subject, but she made sure we got it…or we went over and over again until we did! She was a challenging teacher. She made us work hard, but she was very fair.”

When I entered Mrs. Stevenson’s classroom as a 7th grade student, I knew that she meant business. I studied very hard that year under her guidance and encouragement, and became a much better student. I repected her, and I knew she wanted me to excel. I also had the privilege of teaching with Mrs. Stevenson from 1972 until she retired, and I appreciated her talents even more then. Sadly, Mrs. Stevenson passed away several years ago. She changed the lives of hundreds of students for the better, not just as students, but also deep down as good human beings and productive members of society. Anna Faye, I will always be grateful to have had you as my junior high teacher. You were one classy lady!

John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 32 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.