Familiar Face Absent From Rector Elementary School

Thursday, August 21, 2014
Rector School District superintendent Johnny Fowler presents Bonnie Manning with an engraved plate in recognition for her years of dedication to the school.

Many students, their parents and even grandparents will likely notice the absence of a familiar face following the start of the 2014-2015 school year at Rector Elementary. Beloved teacher Bonnie Manning is not welcoming a new group of students to her class at Rector for the first time since 1963, having retired at the end of the 2013-2014 term. Manning taught school for a total of 51 and one-half years, 51 of which were at Rector while the half was her first job out of college, working with the Gosnell School District.

Manning taught first grade at Rector, a position she held for 34 years before shifting to third grade. Prior to her retirement, Manning began teaching Title I Math.

"I enjoyed all my classes," Manning recalls. "With first grade, the children were so full of energy and you could see them developing every day. In third grade, I enjoyed the different activities and ways to motivate more mature students. With math, the reward was working with a smaller class and seeing the children's faces light up when they figured out how to solve a particular problem they had struggled with before. I cared for all my students and loved my time as their teacher."

Originally from Marmaduke, Manning earned her teaching degree from Arkansas State University in 1962. She said she knew she wanted to be a teacher at a young age, playing the role as a child before being trusted with greater responsibilities from her own teachers as a teenager.

"I was in the Future Teachers," Manning said. "There were times when our teachers would go to a meeting or workshop for an hour or so at a time, and they would let some of us girls go help out in their rooms. I really enjoyed doing that, and that's when I made up my mind that I was going to be a teacher."

During her time at Rector, Manning's students would be made up of generations of area families.

"I've had several students whose parents I taught years before and even grandparents," Manning laughed. "Several of my students have come back to see me as adults and shared memories. I've enjoyed that a great deal over the years."

Manning has enjoyed her first summer of retirement, taking the opportunity to spend more time with her own children and grandchildren. She hopes to do more travelling now that her schedule is open.

"I'm enjoying the freedom," she laughed. "If I want to take a trip out of town for a few days, then I can. I'm looking forward to doing more of the things I've wanted to, but just didn't have the time to do.

"I miss seeing the students and the many friends I have at the school, but I'm also excited to move on with the next phase of my life. Instead of being excited about school starting, I'm excited about my retirement starting."

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