Rector's primary art teacher to soon retire
After 41 years in the elementary education field, including the last seven as Rector's primary grades art education teacher, Debbie Davis Robinson plans to say goodbye to the classroom at the end of this school year.
Raised in the Mounds area, Robinson attended Marmaduke schools, where she graduated in 1967. She received a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1971 from Arkansas State University, following up with her master's degree in education in 1975.
For the first six years of her teaching career, Robinson taught first grade at Campbell, Mo., before landing a job with the federal programs (Chapter 1 and Title 1) at the Rector school system, where she remained teaching in those programs until 2005.
At that time, art education became mandated in the schools and Robinson volunteered to get certified for that specialty since she had always loved art. She did have some trepidation about whether or not she could succeed in this new endeavor.
"I was nervous about going into a brand new field, but my daddy had always told me to never fear doing something new and told me to 'try it -- take a new step,' so that's what I did. It ended up being a great decision since I have enjoyed being an art teacher so much," Robinson exclaimed.
She has especially enjoyed providing an outlet for her students' creativity -- an outlet not always provided by other classes.
"Everyone needs to have something they're good at, and when I see my students succeed with art projects, it really helps their self esteem," she added.
Michelle Hartsfield, Rector elementary secretary and a parent, had much to say about Robinson's influence on her children.
"My son got so much out of her art classes, and Miss Debbie was a major influence and inspiration in developing Kaylee's creativity and love of art. She has also inspired several other students to continue to excel and succeed with their artistic endeavors, as well," Hartsfield said.
Some of her best memories through the years center on the Christmas and end-of-year elementary plays and programs she helped produce and the teamwork and friendships developing from those experiences.
"I have so many great memories of myself, Cathy Louder and other teachers doing the staging, making costumes, developing set designs and doing makeup for these productions, like Cinderella, Robin Hood and others," she reflects.
When asked how she would like to be remembered, Robinson says, "I was a teacher who wanted her students to have fun and be able to succeed in my classroom. I would like to think I was helpful, fair and cared about my students -- and especially cared about them doing their best," she said.
Robinson gives this advice to new teachers coming on board: "Be on time, be flexible and be prepared. And, above all, be a happy person and enjoy what you do!"
She will join her husband, Don, in retirement, and plans to spend more family time with her mother, Annette Davis of Rector, as well as her son, Judson, his wife Charla, and their kids, Tyson, Cain and Addy, who live in Paragould.
Robinson also has another grandchild, Sarah, who lives in Rector, the daughter of her late son, Josh, and Heidi Henderson.
Sewing, church and volunteering with her grandkids' activities round out retirement plans for Robinson.
Whatever the future holds for her, there is no doubt Robinson's artistic legacy and influence will be felt for some time to come through the many students she has had a positive influence on through the years.