Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A tragic Loss

I was saddened this evening to learn of the death of Sarah Bayrd, my favorite teacher from high school. She taught AP US History, and she was an amazing person.

I'm still in shock, and I'm finding words difficult at the moment (a rare thing for me), but here is the tribute I sent to the Brentwood Home Page:

I am shocked and saddened at the death of Sarah Bayrd. A 1999 graduate of Brentwood High School, I took AP US History from Mrs. Bayrd and was honored to serve as one of her office workers when I was a Senior.

Plain and simple, Mrs. Bayrd was the best teacher I ever had. Not coincidentally, she was the hardest teacher I ever had. But no one ever disliked her for that. She was strict, but everyone understood what the expectations were from day 1. Many who graduated at the top of our class and were used to getting A's on everything felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment when we got B's on Mrs. Bayrd's tests, but we knew that at the end of the year we would ace the AP exam. Other AP classes during my Senior year at Brentwood seemed relatively easy because they did not have the intensity and expectation that Mrs. Bayrd's class had (incidentally, at Brentwood, no one ever said "I'm taking AP US History"- they simply said "I'm taking Mrs. Bayrd").

No class did nearly as much to prepare me for college as did hers. I was fortunate enough to receive scholarships to Butler University and Vanderbilit Divinity School, and in those demanding institutions I had to assume responsibility for learning a large amount of material on my own without being spoon-fed by teachers. I learned how to do that in Mrs. Bayrd's class.

Her teaching continued into my Senior year, when I was able to serve as an office worker for her. We took care of menial tasks, of course, like making sure that the coffee maker in her class room was always full and that the vanilla candles were always lit (I can still recall the smell of her classroom to this day), but we also got to put together her tests and take care of the occasional off-campus errand (without the explicit permission of the school). The trust she placed in us was not taken for granted.

I could go on for much longer. Sarah Bayrd was an incredible teacher who inspired and challenged untold numbers of students to work harder and achieve more than they ever thought possible. I am one of the many lives that is so much greater for her presence in it. She will be missed.

This world is a much better place because Sarah Bayrd was in it. May we all be so fortunate as to have that truly said of us at the end of our lives.


B said...

Thank you for your kind words, Matt. I was fortunate enough to have my mother for a teacher when I was a Junior at BHS and it is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received -unintentional though it was.

Beth Bayrd

Jeannie said...

betcha still remember like 30 bayrdisms, what a witty woman!

Anonymous said...

I graduated BHS in 1997. About two weeks ago I was chatting with a fellow BHS graduate (class of '93?) whose child goes to school with my child. We were talking about how great our high school experience was, and Mrs. Bayrd's fantastic personality was one of those fond memories we shared. I hate to hear this.

Scott Owens said...

I had Mrs. Bayrd for AP US History in 1984-85, and was a senior servant like you. I find it remarkable that all the blogs and internet postings are basically the same, whether someone had her a few years ago or over 25 years ago. She was one of the best teachers ever, and one of the few that I remember well.