Helen Sidney is still impacting the lives of her students long after she retired.
For 41 years, Sidney taught at Armstrong Elementary School – and recently she donated $100,000 to help transform the school’s library into a modern learning commons.
Going above and beyond for her students is nothing new for Sidney, who helped fundraise for an addition to the library and gym in 1971.
The donation comes just in time to celebrate the school’s 100th birthday in September.
With COVID protocols in place a small, but special ceremony was held April 29 at the school to thank her.
Although only a few were allowed to attend the event, they represented the deep roots and the impact Sidney had during her time at the school.
Kindergarten teacher Heather Ramsay was a student of Sidney's in Grade 1.
Sidney said she decided to donate the money “while she was still around to enjoy it” and because her career as a teacher, and continuing to help the “kiddos,” is important to her.
“It means so much to me to be able to give back a little bit for what they have given me,” she said as she spoke warmly about her years as a teacher, including her role as “tooth fairy” for all the youngsters losing their teeth at school.
Sidney will be turning 99 this year, and is still active. She's known in Vernon, where she now lives, for her daily walks along Bella Vista Road, where she cleans up garbage.
Principal Corrinne Langston said the donation was a beacon of light and hope during the pandemic.
Student Olivia Southworth presented Sidney with a selection of large cards, each one designed by a class at AES.
“All the signatures of the students are there. I love it, I love it. There is a lot work in these cards, look at all this. They really did a marvelous job,” said Sidney.
A big surprise was in the card created by Ramsey’s class, as it included original printing work Ramsey did while in Sidney’s Grade 1 class.
“I am overwhelmed. I just don’t know what to say,” said Sidney after all the accolades.
- with files from School District 83