Gainesville educators to be honored through donations for new GES playset

Almartha resident Janet Taber, left, made a donation to the Gainesville PTO project to purchase new playground equipment at the elementary school in honor of longtime educator Paula Rose, right, and in memory of Rose’s mother, the late Jean Herd. “I decided to dedicate my donation in honor of these two generations of educators who each taught at Gainesville Elementary for 30 years,” Taber told the Times Monday. “Paula coached and taught both of my daughters and had a huge impact on them and many other children – an impact that no doubt continues today, even after her retirement. She taught her students the sense of fair play and commitment, and expected her teams to be the best they could. This was a lifestyle for both of these women, not just an 8-to-5 job.” Times photo / Jessi Dreckman

The Gainesville Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) is nearing its goal to raise the $10,000 needed to purchase and install new playground equipment that will replace an old, wooden boat-shaped play piece located at the Gainesville Elementary School. 

Organizers say they are working to complete the project and hope the fully funded playset can be purchased and installed in the next few months.

The PTO first announced the project in October 2019, when the fundraiser was launched with a $2,000 gift from Steve Hicks using funds that were given in memory of his wife, longtime teacher June Hicks, after her death on Feb. 28, 2019. June’s sisters, Judy Turner and Gay Strong, donated an additional $1,000 to kick-start the giving. 

With that generous start, the PTO invited anyone, former students or simply admirers, who remembered a beloved teacher to make a contribution to the fund in their honor or memory. 

The current list of educators who have been recognized by donors through the project include Susan Ault, Phyllis Bentley, Dot Blackburn, Janice Blisard, Tina Britt, Ealum Bruffett, W.W. and Doris Clark, Verla Cubbage, Patty Crisp, Jane Elder, Gary Emrick, Karen Eubank, Patsy Hambelton, Jean Herd, June Hicks, Ida Mae Huse, Sheryl Lawson, Barbara Luna, Kris Ledbetter, Alice Lord, Mearle and Stella Luna, Thana Breeding Mahan, Barbara McGee, Brandi Miller, Earlene Morrison, Ron Pinkney, Barbara Pettit, Madge Parker, Paula Rose, Bryan Silvey, Kathy Snell and Judy Turner. “This is the perfect way to publicly say thank you to that teacher who made a difference in your life,” said PTO co-president Allisa West shortly after the fundraiser was announced. “In fact, it may be hard to choose whom to honor! I can think of so many teachers who went the extra mile when I was in school, who arrived early, stayed late, made sure a student had the proper clothing, placed just the right book into a child’s hand to start her on a reading journey, dried a child’s tears, or laughed at someone’s silly joke.”

Donations may be given in honor of living teachers, either current or retired, or in memory of any who have passed on. Both honorariums and memorials will be commemorated on a plaque that will include the names of the donor and the honoree. 

The PTO has set up a site where donations can be made online. Search for “Gainesville PTO Playground Equipment.” Or mail a check payable to Gainesville PTO to Gainesville Elementary School, 422 Bulldog Drive, Gainesville, MO 65655 Attn: Allisa West - PTO. Be sure to include with your check the full name of the teacher to be honored. One hundred percent of all donations will go toward the equipment and plaque, West said.

“We are so excited about this opportunity to honor our wonderful teachers at Gainesville. So many lives impacted, so many special memories made. If we can give our teachers some recognition, and at the same time make a much-needed improvement to our facilities, this will be a long-lasting tribute,” says PTO co-president Susannah Alms.

For more information, contact Alms at or call 417-294-0536. The Gainesville PTO is a group of parents, teachers and community members who work to meet the needs of the Gainesville school system.

Ozark County Times

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