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Grant: You just have to be patience personified.
First Baptist Church Preschool teacher Donna Grant watches student Nathaniel Stephens pretend to feed a baby doll. - photo by Tom Reed | The Times

Donna Grant | First Baptist Church Preschool

Donna Grant has spent the last 51 years teaching and plans to retire in May from the preschool at First Baptist Church.

But her influence will last well beyond her tenure as an educator.

Just like the influence of her fifth-grade teacher is still making an impact on her.

“She was loving. She was all the things I wanted to be: kind, patient, which I need lots of,” said Grant. “That was really when I thought I kind of wanted to be a teacher. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I decided to go for it.”

She has worked at First Baptist for almost 25 years.

Why did you choose teaching?
“I got into teaching by taking my 2-year-old daughter to Mother’s Morning Out. The lady in the day care center said, ‘I need you to come teach first grade,’ so that was the beginning. And I’ve been teaching 51 years since — 24 years here.”

“Positive attitude — knowing what you had planned is not necessarily what’s going to happen. It will depend on the children. You can have some little thing that you think is going to be lots of fun and they come in and you can just forget it.”

Most memorable teaching moment
 “After all these years there are a lot. Most of my memories are funny things that happened. I don’t have any bad memories. They’ve all been fun. I look back now, and the preschoolers are all around here. Now they’re having children and bringing them here. Those are the fun things.”

Advice for other teachers
 “It takes lots of patience. You have to be prepared, even though it doesn’t always work. You have to love children ... I think those are the main attributes of being a preschool teacher. You just have to be patience personified.”