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There was always a twinkle in her eye

Grassroots Tehachapi


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Former students of Tehachapi teacher Barbara Teague remember her laugh, wisdom and kindness.

For Barbara Teague's former students, that twinkle and her dedication to every one of them will be what they remember forever.

Her death in October took her away too soon, but the lessons she taught and encouragement she provided lives on.

"She was an exceptional teacher, someone you were lucky to have," said former student David SteeleReed.

Comments about the former Tehachapi English instructor share a common theme -- excellence.

"No matter how complicated the language or writing was ... she brought the stories to a level you could enjoy," SteeleReed said. "There was always a twinkle in her eye when concepts were understood. She loved teaching."

Teague taught English and literature classes at several Tehachapi schools. After years of hearing praise and admiration from my brother, who took classes with her at THS, I always felt completely unlucky she had left the high school before my years at the school.

Her students say she was one of those teachers that could help any student blossom into an enthusiastic learner and well-rounded adult.

"I moved to Tehachapi during a difficult time. I didn't have any friends yet and I believe she could see the struggle. She started to build me up and made me feel like my prominence was just as great as anyone else. That we were all worthwhile," my brother Joshua Crisalli said remembering his favorite teacher.

Teague was kind and intelligent. Though she fostered an environment that made her students feel comfortable, she wasn't a push over.

"She was such an intriguing person with a great sense of humor ... she had a great laugh," said SteeleReed. "She was in charge though. You never really thought about acting up in her class, but if you did, she didn't stand for it."

Teague took an interest in the lives of all her students. Those lucky enough to bump into her around town, even years after taking her class, said she always remembered them and made them feel just as interesting and important as she did in class.

"I remember her being a sassy, vivacious and passionate lady," said Mimi Jenkins Whitney.

Former science teacher Lauren Hollen remembers Teague as an excellent educator. One whose intelligence kindly intimidated the other instructors. Her lasting memory of Teague was the month-long prank she pulled on instructors at THS. She came to school wearing a large diamond ring on her left hand. Teague was good friends with Bill Richards, another English teacher at THS, and she was curious if the ring would fool the staff into thinking the two buddies had become engaged.

"It took a good month for one of us to get the nerve to ask her about the ring," Hollen said. "She had some fun with that."

Teague's unexpected death was a tragic shock to the teachers and students of Tehachapi. While the details surrounding her death are hard to forget, her former students are committed to making her life and influence what people remember most. A GoFundMe campaign has been created to purchase a dedication placard for the bench outside Tehachapi's new library and to donate books in her honor.

"I hope people remember what she gave to us. She helped us develop a broad lens of the world, encouraged us to be well-read, inquisitive, seekers of knowledge," SteelReed said.

You can donate money to the project at or in person at either branch of Tehachapi's Bank of Sierra located at 224 W. F Street or 21000 Mission Street, Tehachapi Calif.

Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at [email protected]

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