My name is Erica Taylor. I was a student in Mrs. (Sandra) Nye's fourth grade class at East Elementary School in the 2003-2004 school year.
I am now graduating from Borah High School, and because I can no longer thank her personally for her contribution to my life and those of my peers, I would like to express my gratitude to East Elementary School in the Mountain Home school district.
Mrs. Nye's beautiful personality naturally established a warm and pleasant environment in the classroom. She also promoted positive self-esteem and a fundamental respect for others to her students, always leading by example.
Art was an extremely important component of her class, and I specifically remember a mural the whole class worked together to create. We each made a self-portrait using a word which we felt described us. Almost everyone asked her, "Mrs. Nye, what am I like? What word should I use?"
And she would tell them, "You're very creative," "You're bubbly," "You're sweet." When a friend of mine asked her, she responded "You're so sparkly!"
And I had to ask, "What about me; am I sparkly?"
She said, "Erica, you shine."
On the mural as well as in person, every student looked important and confident. Mrs. Nye's illness never affected her teaching. In fact, her head coverings taught me that beauty is achieved not by makeup and pretty hair but by loving people.
Every year, all of the students at the elementary school file into the cafeteria, each to make a small loaf of bread which he or she may bring home to his or her family. What an exciting experience! Everyone looks forward most to getting to knead the dough -- it's always fun to get a little bit messy.
Mrs. Nye participated with us, but instead of mashing it up herself (which I'm sure she'd be more than happy to do) she generously offered to me her plastic zippered bag filled with flour, water and the other necessary ingredients.
I asked her, "Why are you letting me do this?"
Giving me a little hug, she replied, "Because I love 'ya."
Mrs. Nye offered her love and affection to her students as if we were all her own children. Her motherly instincts were displayed on a number of occasions, from fearlessly taking care of intruding spiders to gently comforting a student who got sick during class one day.
Mrs. Nye truly represents what it means to be a teacher, and I hope someday to be half as good as her at anything I do. In the fall, I will be attending classes in Austin, Texas, studying to be a teacher myself.
Thank you so much, Mrs. Nye. I will never forget you.
-- Erica Taylor, Boise
Editor's note: Sandra Nye passed away on July 28, 2011, at age 64. She taught in Mountain Home for 27 years before retiring in 2008.