A Journey of an Education

Thursday, December 26, 2013
Sue Blair receives a warm farewell from the fourth grade students in Mrs. Shawna Bucy's class. Blair worked with the class as part of her student teaching requirements before completing her Elementary Education degree this past week.(story and photo by Ryan Rogers)

The journey from student to educator has been a unique, winding path for Sue Blair of Piggott. Blair, 53, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University this past week with a BSE in Elementary Education. The achievement marked a triumph for Blair not only in terms of allowing her to seek a career she truly enjoys, but also in how she set goals for herself and worked to achieve them.

Having quit high school at age 16, Blair returned to her studies in 2000 to work towards her GED, which she obtained in 2002.

"I quit school at 16 and went to work," Blair recalled. "At that time, they would let you quit if you were 16 and had a job, and that's what I did."

In the years following, Blair would often think about continuing her education. During this time, she fell in love and married her husband, Tim, and the couple started a family. With work and her family requiring so much of her time, Blair found herself putting off her return to school.

"I thought about it often, but it never seemed like the right time. Finally, in 2000 (at age 40), it seemed like everything just sort of fell into place."

With the Blairs' oldest child, Heather, out on her own and youngest child, Kenneth, in high school, Blair opted to continue her education.

"I had been thinking of it for a while, and I decided by 2007 that I wanted to go to college," Blair said. "I started at Black River and then took a couple of classes at ASU before transferring to Southeast Missouri State."

While her overall schedule was hectic, juggling her studies with work and being a mom and grandmother, Blair persevered. She approached college with an unmatched level of determination.

"This was something I wanted to do for myself and for my family," Blair said. "I was determined to see it through."

Blair hopes to work locally as an elementary teacher. She has gained quite a bit of experience, having taught Sunday school for 14 years. Last week, she completed her second semester of student teaching at Rector Elementary School, working in Shawna Bucy's fourth grade class. The class' Christmas party Thursday had a bittersweet tinge for everyone, though, as it marked Blair's final day in the classroom.

"I've loved it," Blair said of working with the children. "Both fourth grade classes are awesome. They are a great bunch of kids. Shawna's been just wonderful. I've learned a lot here. I don't know what I'm going to do, waking up tomorrow and not coming here."

Based on the students' reaction, and that of Bucy, Blair will be greatly missed.

"She has been so great to work with," Bucy said. "She's great with the students; everyone loves her. We're really going to miss her."

Several students came up to Blair during the party to ask her to come back to visit the class and to stay at Rector Elementary as a teacher. Blair told the students she would do her best to visit soon. As for her teaching, Blair says she has applications in place at area schools including Rector and Piggott.

"It's taken a lot of work to get to this point, but it's all been worth it," Blair said. "I have a passion for education and I love kids. I'm ready to get back in the classroom."

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