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Taylor honors 96-year-old former teacher who impacted thousands of students

Mrs. Lessie Givens is a Taylor treasure.

AUSTIN, Texas — Tuesday, May 2 was Teacher Appreciation Day, and Taylor ISD celebrated by honoring a special educator.

The district held a celebration honoring Mrs. Lessie Givens, who is 96 years old. She taught for more than 30 years.

The community calls her a "Taylor treasure," and district leaders said she is an inspiration, a blessing and many students' favorite teacher.

For many years, Givens taught at O.L. Price School in Taylor, where Black students attended school before integration. After integration, she taught at three other Taylor campuses, serving as a classroom teacher, team leader and a mentor for other teachers.

She met her future husband, Jerry, at O.L. Price and the two were married for 37 years.

During a recent interview, Givens said, “I remember times when children wouldn’t have lunches, and I had children who needed clothes and shoes and we would pay for those things. We would get the bill for band instruments because Jerry didn’t want students to drop out of band because they couldn’t afford the instruments. One time when it was cold, he came in without his coat. When I asked him about it, he said there was a little boy walking home in the cold without a coat, so he gave his coat to him.”

She's retired now but said she misses teaching.

"After the students grew up, having them come back and tell me the special things they learned in my class and how they appreciated my class, and I was also very happy about the progress they made, the jobs that they had and all of those kind of things," she said.

On Tuesday, the mayor of Taylor presented a proclamation honoring Givens.

One of her former second-grade students was there who is 80 years old!

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