Lasting memories and infinite impressions

Staff and students share their last words for a beloved teacher


Story by Colton Johnson and Langley Leverett

Most teachers tack upcoming events and reminds to their bulletin board, maybe a tiger calendar or perhaps a bell schedule. However, for 74-year-old Deanna Henderson, her board was filled with newspaper clippings, boasting the accomplishments of any student that attended the school she was so proud to work for.

Following her final year of teaching at Texas High, Henderson became ill with cancer. After battling this for several weeks, Henderson passed away on Tuesday, June 27 at a local hospital.

Henderson served many different roles on campus besides just an English teacher; she was someone who went above and beyond for her students, in every aspect of their lives. She was someone who jumped hurdles, just to see her student’s aspirations come true.

“She cut out every newspaper article that featured a student at Texas High and put them on her bulletin board. It let every student know that they were just as important as anyone else,” fellow teacher Robin Welsh said. “There’s no telling how many people she helped pay for their college. She would provide money for students to have tuxedos and dinner for prom night. She did things when she saw a need and she was very quiet about it.”

Besides being a supportive mentor to her students, she was naturally a motherly figure toward her coworkers. Nurturing and encouraging, she paid attention to those around her, and gave credit where credit was due.    

“Deanna and I are really close. She listened to me and mothered me and took my side and trusted my judgment in ways that my mother could not do for some time,” Welsh said. “What impressed me the most was she never lost her curiosity or her interest in students. No matter how tired she was, she was able to show students that they were just as important and valuable as anyone else. She loved football. We had season tickets. She always went to the games. She never lost her sense of humor. She enjoyed reading. She was interested in the world.”

She opened her heart to people and took every opportunity to reach out and touch the lives of those around her. Whether it was administration, fellow teachers or students, she shared her love with all those she came in contact with.

“Deanna Henderson welcomed me with open arms when I first arrived at Texas High in 2007. We found the same things funny and always chuckled about all of the craziness of teacher life. She was loved by her students and saw them and her colleagues as her family,” former teacher Monica Washington said. “We certainly all loved her deeply. She was family.”

Henderson was not only a person of considerate and kind character, but she tried her best to connect with students, in ways only a genuine teacher could. She taught through ideas that appealed to her students most, so they could relate to items being taught. Whether it was football season, or any other extracurriculars, she made sure that they felt acknowledged.

“She made sure that she taught Friday Night Lights during October,” fellow teacher Susan Waldrep said. “It would be relevant and her students could compare and contrast the book to their lives.”

Even more so, she was an incredible influence to her students, always pushing them to put their best foot forward in everything they chased after.

“Mrs. Henderson was one of my favorite teachers. She was always saying something funny and making the class laugh,” former student Savannah Walker said. “She was one of my inspirations to be major in education and become an English teacher after college.”

She taught students far more beyond the curriculum of the classroom. She taught them to be proud of themselves and their work. She taught them to believe in their abilities when no one else did.

“Mrs. Henderson was a great influence on my life. She inspired me to be the man I am today. She taught me how to write my dreams out on paper, and always encourage me to never give up no matter how hard it gets,” former student Miracle Hendrix said. “I love you Mrs. Henderson, for being a real teacher that this world needs. She was the first teacher to ever come support me at my games at Texas High.”

She had an infectious spirit within her, and she brought this spirit with her into the classroom. She gave her students honest judgment and opinions, but always remaining constructive. She was a person who could make another feel respected and needed, all the while forming bonds with her students that would last far longer than the school year.

“Her eyes always lit up when she talked about the people and things she loved. Although she tried to keep things orderly when teaching, she always cracked jokes that even surprised you, because she was funny that way,” upcoming senior, Savannah Kennedy said. “She made you want to be better, and she’ll always be an unforgettable teacher for sure.”

Her classroom was a safe haven away from the chaos of the world, and the chaos of high school. It was a place where students felt proud of their work and of themselves. It was a place where memories were created, and relationships formed. Those memories will forever be in that classroom. Her bulletin board may no longer hold the clippings of newspaper articles, but it will forever have the holes of all the pins she used to hold them up.

“Deanna was truly a born teacher who had the ability to relate to her students in a unique way.  She cared about each one as an individual and always had their best interests at heart. She was gifted at helping the struggling students and knew the strategies to give them to succeed,” former teacher Jeanie Nutter said. “She was also a loyal friend and a valuable member of the English department. Always the team player, she could be relied upon to do more than her part.”

Her funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. July 10 at Williams Memorial United Methodist Church on Moores Lane.