MRS. SANDY MILLER shares amusing anecdotes of her teaching days in Devine

I will always regard the years I taught at Devine High School as the very best years of my 43-year teaching career. Those years are filled with memories of many wonderful students, coworkers and Devine community members. It was definitely a more casual, relaxed, fun filled environment than exists in many school districts today. There is no doubt in my mind that my time at DHS was a blessing to me. I would like to share a few of those special memories today. To this day we subscribe to the “Devine News”. It is fun to read the honor roll, check sports page and look for Lewis Stroud’s picture in the paper.
First of all, I will always be grateful for the absolute best principal ever, Bob Bendele, and the best superintendent, Dr. Steele. I was also lucky enough to have many outstanding co-workers …. Nancy McGowan, Mary Rowell, Myra Waters, Richard Malone, Kay Schultz, Gordon Schultz, Susan Frazier, and Bill Lorraine, Beulah Anderson, Phil and Linda McAnelly, to name just a very few.
Devine is certainly the most sports-loving town I have ever been in. Football games seem to rule in the fall. Spirit ribbons I think sold for a quarter. There were decorating contests during homecoming week. There was the weekly pep rally with spirit sticks awarded…. I think I still have mine. One time we even had won a pep rally sponsored by 92.9. The DJ’s name was Catfish something or other. It is a little late but I apologize for not arranging that ahead of time with the administration. I didn’t know I was going to win the contest. At the games, former players, some wearing their old letter jackets, were lined up by the fence. Band parents were selling popcorn, pickles, and frito pies in the concession stands. Cheerleaders were throwing little footballs into the stands. I was passing out Bozo Bucks. Ralph Reyes’ mother was ringing a cowbell in the stands. A good time was had by all. The excitement when Devine beat Hondo for the first time in a long time in ’86 was unbelievable!
The Talent Show was a lot of fun. Gary English was on drums singing “You Have To Fight For Your Right To Party”. Mary Rowell had a group of teachers pantomime ”Leader of the Pack”. Mr. Hicks sang “Old Man Lucas had a lot of Mucus”. Lots of other “talent” was shown as well.
It was a more relaxed time. There were pickups in the parking lot with guns in the gun rack and nobody felt threatened. I was able to send two of my aides to Dairy Queen to take lunch to my junior high kids. Garret Pye dashed over to the junior high to get one of his mother’s hubcaps to illustrate a property of circles during geometry class. Shannon Rackley brought her two-wheel bicycle for the same reason.

Once there were several goats loose on the city street. The animal control officer was not available to catch them. The City Administrator (my husband Bob) came over to the high school and talked to Travis Byrom. Field trip! Travis and his class grabbed some rope, jumped into their pickups and took care of the situation. I think Travis may have given Matt Barber a lesson in roping that day.
I only had 5 students, maybe 6, in my trig class one year. One day we all got in my car and I just drove us around town with maybe a stop at Dairy Queen. It was a great study break.
UIL was a fun time. Brenda Gardner was an awesome coordinator for that. One time we were I think in Kerrville for a meet. I do not like to drive and was more than a little unnerved about driving back to Devine. I made 16 year-old Royd Graham drive us all back. Maybe he volunteered. I am not sure. I think he had a license…lol. I just know I didn’t drive.
One of the reasons I really appreciated Bob Bendele is because he let me hang up a bunch, a whole bunch, of posters in my room. Neva Sessions, as a little girl, would come over in the summer and help me put up posters and words on the wall. I am guessing Jim was hanging out in the gym shooting baskets.
I loved the fact that because of my teaching schedule, I could end up teaching some students three years in a row. One year TEA mandated a teacher evaluation form that had 75 components. One of the biggies on the list was Per Cent of Student Participation. I was due for an evaluation, and since I had a good relationship with this one particular class, I devised a way to get that item checked off. It was like a game to me and still makes me smile to remember it. I told my students that when I asked a question during the evaluation, that if they knew the right answer, then they should raise their right hand. If they did not know the right answer they should raise their left hand. Voila ! 100% participation. Unbeknownst to me, the kids had their own little plan. When I asked the first question, they all raised their left hand. I just said “Great, since you all know the answer we will just move on”. Everyone had a big smile, including me. I actually wanted to laugh out loud.
Zero hour was a fun addition to the schedule. One time my daughter Margaret was not in class. I gave my car keys to Holly Graham and had her go to my house and wake up Margaret. Luckily, the Graham kids were good drivers. Robert Diaz was late to zero hour one time. His excuse was that he was delayed due to a bunch of chickens being on the road. I questioned that. He said that one was still attached to his vehicle. So, we all went downstairs to the parking lot and sure enough, there was a dead chicken wedged under the grill. Excuse accepted.
Getting a computer lab was a big step forward. So then we had a Computer Club. It was a pretty active club, even if we didn’t spend time on computers. One of our first fun activities was a snipe hunt at President Maggie Whitaker’s ranch. I had never been on a snipe hunt, nor had our foreign exchange student, Hakon Rostad. Haven’t been on one since.
One of the Computer Club activities was the annual trip to A&M. One time Brenda Weinstrom did not make it back to the bus. Hmm. Don’t think her brother Bruce was too concerned. Maybe he thought it was typical. I believe Kenny Saucedo was the hero of the day when he found her wandering around campus somewhere. Those were fun trips, even if someone did have motion sickness and threw up on the bus. The details escape me, but somehow we managed to hose down the floor. Onward!
One of the final grades in my geometry class each year was Hat Day. Students needed to construct a hat using as many different geometric shapes as possible. It was a relatively easy grade and a chance to boost your grade to passing if you needed it. One student, who shall remained nameless, did not pass geometry the first time. I remember the second year when I discussed Hat Day with the class, he turned around and said “She will fail you if you don’t do it, trust me” and then did not do it. He did pass the third year.
During our annual awards ceremony, each teacher gave an award to the most outstanding student and to the most improved student. I decided the above unnamed young man would definitely be my most improved (maybe of all time). When I called his name during the assembly, I was told that he was in the Ag barn working on a project there so that he would pass that class.
I liked that as a teacher, we would be a sponsor to the same class for all of their four years in high school. There was a lot of fundraising involved during that time. Page Pye showed her business skills early on. I heard her sometimes going down the hall reminding others about paying dues, or working at a fund raiser, etc. One time Andy Zapata, Dawn Hoog and I were in Andy’s truck late at night moving chairs from a fundraiser. We were stopped by the police who were wondering why we were out riding around that late, I guess. It was a little awkward to me to admit that my husband was their boss. All was well though.
My son Chris told me an interesting story that I had not heard before. He called it The Lawyer’s First Loss. In one of his classes they had a mock trial. Chris and Greg Estes were on one side. Paul Noak (lawyer’s son and future lawyer) and Chris Navarro were on another side. David Yarbro was the judge. Apparently Paul and Chris N. really had the better case; but David ruled in favor of Chris and Greg. It seems there had been a bit of bribery involved.
One of my best memories from our time in Devine was when we moved from our rent house to our new house. Instead of hiring a moving company, a bunch of my students came over and moved us. It was a trail of pickup trucks all day Saturday. When I went to school on Monday, I had to ask each class if anyone knew where my coffee pot was.
I have tried my best but some of these facts may be a little off. I just know I loved my time in Devine. I will always miss it. It was such a great pleasure to meet some many wonderful people. I have loved seeing those “kids” grow up and have kids and grandkids of their own (thank you FaceBook). I have thought of many other former students and associates as well. I would love to hear from you. I am on FaceBook under Sandy Miller .