Got a Minute? Catch up with veteran teacher Mary Lampkins (’88)

Posted by Monica Hoel
Mary Lampkins (E&H ’88) says her older siblings had to endure her “playing teacher” when she lined them up for pretend school as early as when she was five years old. But she has used an impressive career in education to prove that she wasn’t just playing. And in 2020, Mary retired after 32 years of teaching in the Washington County, Virginia, school system.

But her time in the classroom didn’t wrap up in the way that she had hoped, because the pandemic cut her last semester short. “Our last day in class was on Friday the 13th…and I told my students that we would be back together soon…but that didn’t happen.”

Mary did her best to use video conferencing, pre-recorded messages, and even the U.S. Mail to make the end of her school as “normal” as possible. She is a self-professed “Mother Hen” when it comes to her students, and she did everything she could to protect these elementary school children of whom she was so fond and so protective. Several years ago, Mary completed her master’s in education at Emory & Henry with plans to be a reading specialist: but in the end, she really missed being with her same students day after day. So she took her advanced degree back into the elementary classroom where she felt she made the most difference for children.

She admits that she has seen much change during her years on the job – not all great. She’s not a huge fan of standardized learning because she feels it doesn’t give students enough room to really explore and understand the material. She is hopeful that this unusual pause in education might give educators a chance to reconsider SOLs, because Mary is never going to be in favor of anything that doesn’t give children their best chance to learn.

You can read more about Mary at SWVA Today, and you can hear an interview with her in the WEHC archives: https://archive.org/details/OntheDuckPondWall

  • Mary Lampkins, E&H Class of 1988.

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