From a caring Mrs. Ruby Coleman in 1st grade to a nurturing Mrs. Sarah Segrest in 7th, and on through the demanding Mrs. Mable Harris for senior English, we have been fortunate to have some wonderful teachers in Bonifay.

From a caring Mrs. Ruby Coleman in 1st grade to a nurturing Mrs. Sarah Segrest in 7th, and on through the demanding Mrs. Mable Harris for senior English, we have been fortunate to have some wonderful teachers in Bonifay.

Last weekend we lost one of the very best: Miss Lynelle Vanlandingham, who taught 9th grade civics for decades at Holmes County High School.

Miss Vann had a richly deserved reputation as a tough taskmaster. A pointed finger and an arched eyebrow were usually all it took. A firm thump on the ear when necessary. You did not want to be directed to step outside.

We had no choice but to learn something in Miss Vann’s classroom. There were no distractions. She was thoroughly prepared. And the subject was interesting: current events, and how a democracy works, and a citizen’s responsibility to help make it work.

Miss Vann taught generations of Holmes County students, including some she prepared also to become great teachers.

“Nelle taught me 9th grade civics,” remembered Mrs. Dianne Smith, who taught us 9th grade English the same year we had Miss Vann, and later would succeed Mrs. Harris as an equally demanding senior English teacher.

“Even at my relatively young age at the time, I caught on that a stern teacher controlled the classroom better than the teacher who wanted to be ‘best friends’ with their students,” Mrs. Smith said. “As stern as she was, though, she could still say some funny things at times. In the summertime, she frequently chaperoned house parties at the beach, so we got to see another side of her. She was a lot of fun and knew how to keep a bunch of silly teenage girls in line. We loved her.”

Mrs. Smith said she picked up some of Miss Vann’s approach to teaching.

“Not only did I absorb some things about the importance of classroom management and discipline, but also I learned about the importance of organizational skills for students. She made us keep a notebook just for her class, and she graded it at the end of each six weeks.”

After a long career in the classroom, Miss Vann had a long retirement. She was 93 when she died.

“I went to visit her last Sunday at the nursing home,” Mrs. Smith said. “She told me some funny stories, and seemed to be in good spirits. Like all nursing home patients, she told me several times how much she wanted to go home. When I heard that she’d died, my first thought was that God had taken her home.”

Mrs. Smith said: “She lived a long and very useful life as a teacher. She was a fine lady who was a Bonifay treasure.”