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Hometown Hero: Remembering Wanda Gray

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some teachers just can't seem to get teaching out of their systems, even years after they've retired.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  Some teachers just can't seem to get teaching out of their systems, even years after they've retired.

Springfield Public Schools is mourning the loss of one of those educators this week: Wanda Gray.

Read More: Longtime Springfield Educator Wanda Gray Passes Away

"She would call this 'My school,'" recalls teacher Carolyn Gillespie (right). "She didn't call it Wanda Gray. She called it 'my school.'"

From the outside in, it's clear one woman's work in education is celebrated at this Springfield school.

"She was a very special lady, and that doesn't complete everything you could say about her," says Gillespie.

While Wanda Gray passed away last weekend, her lifetime legacy as an educator and administrator lives on.

"I learned that every day is a joy and a pleasure to be with children and in the classroom and that is the most important job you can do."

For teachers like Gillespie, Gray's lessons reached well beyond her students.

"She would have the book on the table, but she would improvise," says Gillespie. "She would put her touch to that book and really command the attention of everyone in that room."

Before becoming Springfield Public Schools' first female to work in central office, Gray taught in several area school districts and later taught literature at Drury University. She was also a force behind efforts like the parents as teachers program.

"She really had a heart for kids," reflects Superintendent Dr. Norman Ridder. He says Gray's dedication to students even extended after her retirement as she regularly visited her namesake school as long as she could. "She's a pillar. She really gave what I would call a real strong sense of what it means to be alive."

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