Dear Mrs. Emerson…

Dear Mrs. Emerson,

It has been well over sixty-five years since we met and over sixty years since we spoke.   I remembered wide-eyed walking into your Tulsa, Oklahoma Kindergarten class in 1955 and you taking both of my hands and holding them in yours and welcoming me to your class. I was awestruck, like so many 6-years old are, with you, my first teacher.   You started a trend. I measured each teacher in my early years by you.  Fortunately, most of them lived up to your standards. 

Mrs. Ledbetter, the best second-grade teacher in the world, immersed her student’s with books, and stories, and instilled the importance of reading to us. Mr. Bunn, a fabulous fourth-grade speech teacher, taught us the courage to stand before groups and speak or perform without out fear.  He also taught us all the entire soundtrack of songs to the Broadway musical “Oklahoma”.

A move to Missouri introduced me to Elsie Butler, an exemplary sixth-grade teacher who drilled our class with math and science. June Ritchey, English teacher extraordinaire, taught me how to develop my creative writing skills. Those skills were further honed by Roma-Lee Wilkerson who more than competently taught us English composition.  In my mind, Ruth Cunningham set the standard for teaching English Literature.  She was the type of teacher who made you want to learn more.

Because of you, Mrs. Emerson, I learned to appreciate my teachers and those who teach.

Because of you, Mrs. Emerson, I learned and continue to learn to appreciate my educational experience. This appreciation gave me the opportunity to share my enthusiasm and serve on my local school board.

Because of you, Mrs. Emerson, it is easy for me to be an advocate for public education.

Sixty years is a long time to wait for an appreciation letter.  When I realized this was Teacher Appreciation Week, I immediately thought of you and the myriads of teachers who educated me, my children, and my grandchildren and it made me smile.  Thank you for making my first day so special and paving the way for a lifetime of positive educational experiences.

No matter how late it is, I hope someday all the teachers- the Smith’s, Roffers’, Jones’, McMeley’s, Brown’s, Travers’, Daugherty’s, Johnson’s, Sumners’, and Loudis’ get a letter, a note or a call thanking them.


Gary L. Buzbee

Kindergarten 1955-1956

1244 E. Lark St

Springfield, MO 65804


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