Today, I would like to use this space to wish a very happy 75th birthday to a lady I remember fondly from my time at Whitesboro High School. Senora Janette Hayes, as we referred to her, taught us Spanish and Speech back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.


Though I took both classes, what I remember about her most had little to do with the subjects. She had a larger than life personality and she used it to get us to not only participate in class, but enjoy doing so. And for those of us, like myself, who were not overtly outspoken in those days, that was really an accomplishment.


Senora Hayes, I recently learned, taught at Whitesboro schools for 46 years before retiring in 2015. She taught the subjects I listed above as well as English as a Second Language. More importantly, she taught us respect for other cultures and ourselves.


Respect and working things out must have been something she understood because she and her husband Bob, who she clearly adored by the way she spoke about him in class, were married 51 years when he passed away in 2017. They raised two children together and were rewarded with eight grandchildren. I can’t even imagine the fun it must be to have Senora Hayes for a grandma.


I came to Sherman’s Austin College for the very first time in my life with Senora Hayes to do some research for a an extra curricular class. I was SO impressed with that big library that I ended up working in libraries for a number of years after that on summer breaks and as a work study student in college.


I confess I didn’t use much Spanish in the positions, but I did remember her telling us always to speak up and tell people what we had to say as though we just knew they were dying to hear it. And I have certainly used that advice many, many times throughout my career. Great teachers like Mrs. Hayes don’t just teach subject matter. They teach life lessons and in doing so, they leave impressions not only in their student’s minds, but in their hearts as well.


Now in my worst Texas accent, allow me to say, Feliz Cumpleanos Senora Hays. Gracias por los recuerdes!