DedicationOur school is named in honor of Mrs. Audrey W. Garrett. Mrs. Garrett was a teacher for 45 years at Alexander Wilson Elementary School. Her family owned the land where Garrett Elementary was built. Choosing names for Alamance County’s two newest schools was not an easy task. But thanks to community input, the naming committee headed by Meg Scott Phipps settled on names which honor a retired teacher and a historical part of the county.
The new elementary school is called Audrey W. Garrett, in honor of a teacher with some 45 years of experience. Now a resident of Hawfields Presbyterian Home, Garrett spent most of her teaching career at Alexander Wilson Elementary School.
A petition with 1,000 names was presented as community support for naming the school after Garrett. Also, Garrett and her family formerly owned the 80 acres where the school is being built. The land was sold to the local school system prior to construction of the new schools.
The middle school is named after the community of Hawfields, which is located off Highway 119 south of Mebane.
Here is an interview with Mrs.Garrett.
90-year-old celebrates proposed school naming honor, birthday
By Joseph Cigna, Staff Writer, The Alamance News, 1/14/99
Reprinted with permission"I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to teach. I wouldn’t take anything in the world for my teaching experience,” says Audrey Garrett of her 44 years in the classroom.
In a room in the east wing of the Presbyterian Home of Hawfields sits a scrapbook that is filled with the photographs of children who were young long ago.
Some of the pages are more faded than others, the photos are browner, the paper dryer. Like the books, some of the memories in Mrs. Audrey Garrett’s mind have faded and become more distant. But photographs have a quality and a reality than can overcome age, and like the photos, now and then, Mrs. Garrett can recall glimpses into her past. She can sometimes recollect some of the young lives she helped shape.
“I just knew that I wanted to become a teacher.” Mrs. Garrett recalls about her early days as a teacher.
“I first taught school during the summer vacation at Elon College.” she says. “I wasn’t scared. I was very well prepared for my career [as a teacher] at Elon College.”
At a December 7 meeting, a special committee of the Alamance-Burlington school board recommended that the new elementary school now under construction in the Hawfields community, just down the road from the nursing home, would be named the Audrey Garrett Elementary School. The school is being built on property near Old Hillsborough Road and NC 119 that was formerly owned by Mrs. Garrett. The school board will consider the naming of the schools — Hawfields was proposed for the middle school — at its January 25 meeting.
“I can’t find any words to say how I feel.” Mrs. Garrett says as she sits in the over 100-year-old rocking chair that her grandfather gave to his oldest grandchild so very long ago.
“It’s the greatest honor that I’ve ever been bestowed. It’s a great honor.”
Mrs. Garrett can still give a visitor a pretty good estimate of how many young lives she has touched during her career as a teacher, though the numbers don’t tell he entire story.
“I fixed it at one time at between 4,000 to 5,000 children.” she says. A sleepy winter cottage scene in oils that she painted during her time as a student at Elon College hangs just inside the room’s door. There is another painting of yellow roses that was entered in the Alamance County Fair and won a special prize. Mrs. Garrett still likes to talk to visitors about her paintings.
Teaching is something that is still very close to Mrs. Garrett’s heart.
“I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to teach,” she says. “I wouldn’t take anything in the world for my teaching experience.”
Mrs. Garrett knows that things have changed quite a bit since she started her first teaching job in 1927. She also believes that some things never change. She has some advice to pass along to the next generation of young teachers.
“To put it in a few words,” she urges today’s young teachers. “Treat them like they were your own children.”
“Everywhere we go,” says her daughter-in-law Polly Garrett, “whether we’re shopping or anywhere we run into people she’s taught who come up to say hello.”
Vance Garrett and his wife Polly have traveled from Shreveport, Louisiana to help celebrate his mother’s 90th birthday. Mrs. Garrett was born on January 8, 1909.
Mrs. Garrett’s husband, Vance, Sr. died in January 1974 (Vance and Audrey Garrett were married on November 30, 1930 and were married for 43 years).
“We’re terribly pleased that they’re doing this for my mother.” Vance Garrett says.
Mrs. Garrett taught elementary school in Alamance County for over 44 years beginning in 1927 at Eureka Elementary School near Mount Hermon, and continuing at Alexandar Wilson Elementary School in 1937. A paycheck stub from November, 1943 reveals that Mrs. Garrett earned $127.48 net during one week.
Mrs. Garrett retired from teaching in 1971.
While most of the memories have faded, there are specific memories that remain clear.
During most of her 44 years in Alamance County schools, Mrs. Garrett taught first grade. She still recalls the semester when she was needed by another class.
“Mr. George Robbins [principal at the school from 1927-1960, Mrs. Betsy Robbins taught at the school during the same period] came into my first grade class and announced to my students that they should pack all their belongings and follow him. He told me he’d be right back. He came back with my new second grade class.”
A plaque that hangs on the wall near her bed is a particularly treasured memento from one of her former students. The plaque is a Civitan Club “Citizen of the Year” award that was presented to her by former North Carolina Governor Robert Scott.
“I taught Robert in the first grade,” she recalls. “He was a wonderful boy.”
“She’s taught several of his [Scott’s] children,” Polly says.
Some of the oil and watercolor paintings that Mrs. Garrett has made over the years decorate the walls of her room. There are pictures of roses of different colors, a delicate pair of cardinals sitting on a branch of cherry blossoms, sunflowers, the lighthouse at Ocracoke and a wooden covered bridge that used to stand somewhere in southern Alamance County.
“My granddaddy and I would ride over that bridge with his horse and carriage,” she recalls.