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The impact teachers can have on young lives is extraordinary

Halls Cross Roads Elementary School teacher Lindsay Muir celebrates with a group of her students in Aberdeen.
Halls Cross Roads Elementary School teacher Lindsay Muir celebrates with a group of her students in Aberdeen. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

Jacqueline Campbell Hayman, affectionately known as Jackie, died Nov. 9 of this year. Baltimore born and bred, Jackie received her formal education in the Baltimore Public School system. She graduated from Frederick Douglass High school in 1952 at 16 years of age and from Coppin State College (now University) in 1956. She began her teaching career at Cherry Hill elementary school (#159).

At her homegoing service, it was incredibly heartwarming and moving to hear one of her third grade students speak with such genuine love and affection for “Ms Hayman." Raised on tiny Stockton Street in Sandtown during the Jim Crow era, Jackie had a solid family foundation. That nurturing produced a brilliantly competent, accomplished and committed educator. She had a profound and lasting impact upon her students at every level.

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In a recent article about Cherry Hill, it was specifically noted how well-behaved her students were, their eagerness to learn and the admiration, respect and support she got from parents.

I couldn’t help but wonder how often today’s committed Baltimore teachers — and there are hundreds — face these encouraging conditions in a classroom setting. What percentage of kids are well-behaved, eager to learn and to what extent is there parental partnering with teachers? I would guess the vast majority are well-behaved and eager to learn. My overwhelming concern, however, is with the quality and depth of parenting and at what point does the lack thereof derail the best intentions of those same kids?

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Jackie’s upbringing and God’s teachings shepherded her through the daunting challenges she faced during that contentious time including blatant racism, segregated schools, poverty, job discrimination (last hired, first fired), housing discrimination, police brutality and denied public accommodations. Yet she, like many others trapped in those inhumane and hostile conditions, did not succumb to the streets and a destructive wayward life.

Be it simple assault by band of roving teens, carjacking, home invasions, I always think about the first-line teachers — and the parents.

Walt Carr, Columbia

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