Patchwork of memories

Carrie Porter’s life honored, celebrated at Foothills Elementary

“Never do for them what they can do for themselves.”

That was Carrie Porter’s motto, said Foothills Elementary guidance counselor Carrie Slavin at a Celebration of Life service honoring Porter.

The service was held just a little over two months after Porter lost her battle with breast cancer. The Foothills Elementary theater was filled with her former students, parents, friends, fellow educators and co-workers as they gathered to celebrate her life and 21 years as a teacher. The service began with words from Foothills Elementary principal Amy Vagnier. She introduced the Porter family, including Porter’s grown children and her young grandson, Kyle.

David Berry, former principal of Foothills Elementary, originally hired Porter, a third grade teacher, over 20 years ago. He spoke of her ongoing dedication to the profession and the profound impact she had on the lives of her students, one of whom is now a third grade teacher himself.

Carol Humphrey, the school’s technician, presented the Porter family with two large notebooks filled with cards and letters Porter had collected over the years from her students and their parents.

“She pushed and encouraged, but she loved you, and you were more than just a student,” Slavin said.

Porter made her students independent and strong, she said. She was strict yet her classroom was a safe place.

“We miss her physical presence but she lives on in the lives she has touched,” Slavin said.

The Porter family thanked everyone for their attendance then Debbie McClendon, an assistant at Foothills Elementary, sang “The Greatest Love of All.”

Melissa Connor, FTO president, presented the school with framed art that Porter chose. The art was presented “in memory of her strength, courage and service to the community,” Connor said. She also announced the rose garden that is being established on the school grounds in her memory.

The garden is partly funded by donations the FTO received from the community through a special account with BB&T. Vagnier said there were lots of donations to the school and “a tremendous outpouring from the community in honor of the love and respect for Mrs. Porter.”

Four third grade students, Maryann Clemer, Madison Coulter, Sara Curtis and Olivia Hill shared a reading and described Porter as “the best teacher ever.” They told how “she made everything fun” and because of her they were “happy to go to school.”

A PowerPoint presentation highlighted Porter’s many roles at the school and included images of her years as an educator, from her beginnings at Fort Craig to her last years at Foothills. Pictures showing her as a team player, a graduate of the Lincoln Memorial University masters program and a wonderful friend flashed across the screen. The crowd laughed at several images showing her as a good sport with a great sense of humor.

Following the presentation, a moment of silence allowed attendees time to reflect on her life and the impact it had on each person. Vagnier rang a school bell in honor of Porter’s 21 years of service to close the ceremony.

Evelyn Warren, an office assistant at Foothills, shared a love of quilting with Porter.

“She was a wonderful presence around the school,” she said. “You always knew she was around because of the joy that followed her.”

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