Georgia’s beloved teacher, Grace Adkins, celebrated her momentous 95th birthday and retired in style on May 18, marking the end of an extraordinary 78-year career dedicated to shaping young minds. From her humble beginnings at Elmodel School in 1946 to her influential tenure at Deerfield-Windsor Academy and finally at Westwood Schools since 1976, Adkins has been an unwavering force in the field of education. Her remarkable impact extends beyond the classroom, leaving an indelible mark on Camilla, a charming town nestled 60 miles north of Tallahassee.
Throughout her illustrious journey, Adkins wholeheartedly championed the potential of her students, constantly striving to unlock their individual brilliance. Recognized as a “Westwood icon,” she established the renowned Westwood Learning Lab, an embodiment of her lifelong commitment to nurturing student growth. In 2022, Adkins received the esteemed title of best teacher from the Mitchell County Enterprise-Journal, a testament to her unwavering dedication and boundless passion for teaching. An avid reader, she consistently shared captivating book recommendations with her community, including literary gems like the Bible, “The Dyslexic Advantage,” and “Different… Not Less.” The school thoughtfully compiled a collection of her top 50 book suggestions, ensuring her literary legacy endures.
As Adkins bid farewell to the hallways she walked for decades, a symphony of heartfelt emotions filled the air. Students and teachers alike serenaded her with a joyous birthday song, a touching tribute to her impact. Guiding the chorus was Keith Croft, the esteemed headmaster of Westwood Schools, who described the moment as truly special and affirmed that Adkins’ legacy would resonate throughout Westwood for generations to come.
In a beautiful gesture to commemorate her retirement and honor her unwavering dedication, the school encouraged past and present students, as well as colleagues, to share their cherished memories of Adkins on Facebook. The outpouring of appreciation resulted in a captivating compilation of heartfelt letters and touching notes, a tangible representation of the profound influence she wielded over countless lives. The school commended Adkins for her relentless determination to see the best in every student, her unwavering belief that “Every Child is a Winner,” and her tireless efforts to develop early intervention strategies.
The impact of Adkins’ work in the Learning Lab cannot be overstated. Together with her devoted team, she consistently arrived early, providing invaluable assistance to students facing challenges in specific subjects. Heartwarming anecdotes shared on social media exemplify her unwavering dedication and the transformative difference she made in the lives of her students. Fondly remembered as a caring educator who pushed her students to reach their fullest potential, Adkins never gave up on any of them.
The reverberations of Adkins’ influence extend far beyond the school walls and permeate the entire community. Laura Warren, a respected WRDW anchor and producer, candidly shared her personal experiences in the Learning Lab, underscoring how Adkins’ impact has touched the lives of thousands of students worldwide. Even in retirement, Adkins’ steadfast commitment to education and unwavering belief in the potential of every student will continue to inspire the Westwood community and beyond.
As we reflect on the immeasurable contributions made by this extraordinary teacher, let us celebrate Grace Adkins for her lifelong dedication, resilience, and profound love for shaping young minds. May her legacy be etched in the annals of education, forever guiding future generations toward the path of enlightenment and knowledge.