Friday, July 31, 2015

Students never forgot this Sunday School teacher

Very few metropolitan newspapers cover the retirement of Sunday School teachers. But when June Gill resigned at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Abilene, TX, in 2012, the Reporter-News was there. Gill taught the third grade Sunday School class for 47 years. At 79, she summarized her half-century of service in seven words. "It was a real blessing for me."

Two of her pupils, shown below, attended her farewell class. They saw the same wall decoration their parents and grandparents had seen -- the books of the Bible. Gill expected third graders to know the books of the Bible by heart, and as a trained pianist and organist, she created a song to make the lessons fun. Using an old upright piano, she plunked out her Bible verse tune, and also taught old-time hymns. Sometimes she taught students to play "Chopsticks" which inspired a few to study piano.

                                                                                                 photo by Joy Lewis, Reporter-News    
Thirty years later, one of Gill's former pupils uses the same tune to teach the books of the Bible to her Sunday School class at First United Methodist Church in Coppell. "It was really catchy," said Susan Coleman, who was in Gill's class of '81. But Coleman learned more than the books of the Bible in that class. She learned what it takes to be a great teacher.

"I remember her always being so happy to see us!" said Coleman. She was a figure of stability for her class. "They always knew I was going to be here," Gill remembered. Each Sunday she'd put a Bible sticker by her students' names on the attendance chart. She wrote Scripture on the chalk board and her third graders would read it. She also had her pupils make wind socks as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit.  "I just liked it, and the children seemed to enjoy it," she said modestly. Love was her legacy.

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