Leaving a Legacy — Two Missouri Teachers of the Year

Carol Reimann and Beth Davey

As a teacher, you may wonder whether your daily lessons, student engagement and hours (weeks, years) of preparation will leave a lasting impression on the children in your classroom. Remember the words of the Dalai Lama: “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”

Or, if you’re not one for quotes, look no further than the example set by Missouri teachers Carol Reimann and Beth Davey. Twenty years ago, Beth transferred to an elementary school in Cape Girardeau from a parochial school in St. Louis, and Carol became her first-grade math teacher. Beth said that even though she was a quirky new kid, Carol made an immediate, deep impression on her.

“She welcomed me with open arms, love and a joy for teaching,” Beth said. “She would check on me, and she made learning engaging.”

That early influence stayed with Beth, who now teaches music at Iveland Elementary in Ritenour and has been chosen as the 2017-18 Missouri Teacher of the Year. Here’s the kicker – Carol was Missouri Teacher of the Year in 1997. This may be the first time in the state that a Teacher of the Year has taught a Teacher of the Year. Now that’s a legacy!

Beth said, “I don’t remember Carol’s award, even though I was still at the school, but I remember her. I think that says a lot about the impact teachers have.”

When Beth was named a Regional Teacher of the Year, she was looking through the list of previous winners and recognized Carol’s name. She decided to contact her former teacher.

“I am so thrilled she found me,” Carol said. “Sometimes you wonder if you made a difference. Beth said she was only in my class for half a year, but she remembered me. When I found out she won Missouri Teacher of the Year, I called her. We were both in tears.”

Beth says she reflects Carol and other outstanding teachers in her classroom.

“They showed me that it’s good to ask questions. It’s good to discover,” she said. “It’s vital to care for students and get to know them as individuals. I want my classroom to reflect the modeling I have had from my teachers.”

Carol is still influencing Missouri teachers. After 33 years of teaching in Cape Girardeau, Carol has spent the last 17 years working in the Southeast Missouri Regional Professional Development Center. She said she still enjoys going into classrooms and sharing best practices with teachers in a region that stretches from the Arkansas border to near St. Louis. Carol is planning to retire on July 1, 2018.

“I bought a Ford Explorer when I started with the RPDC,” she said. “Seventeen years later, it has 387,000 miles on it with the original engine and transmission. Now, if it will just hold out until July 1.”

Carol said that being named Teacher of the Year was the best thing to happen to her since marriage and having children. She said the year she spent representing teachers across Missouri helped her build the skills she needed for professional development.

“I am so proud to be completing 50 years in education,” Carol said. “I have loved my career, from teaching first graders to offering professional development to teachers. I’ve had a wonderful life as a teacher.”

It seems that Beth will continue to reflect Carol’s influence as she works to promote equity in education and the importance of having an excellent teacher for all children. She had this thought about reconnecting with her first grade teacher.

“I was overwhelmed with a sense of legacy,” she said. “The impact teachers have resonates with students, although it may not be apparent until years later.”