"We all remember Clair's interest in every student she had," Tobin recalled. "It had a lasting effect. In fact students would often come back years later and thank her personally. Her students went in many directions. Some became athletes, others went into politics and business, many became positive role models. All because a kind woman felt it was important to know us all."
As one person told me, "She is remembered by her students, too, for her interest in nature, including her insistence that they spend recess outdoors, sometimes in the woods, no matter how hard it was snowing."
Her skills and passion as an educator became so well known that she was the subject of a documentary by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater, The World in Claire's Classroom, which was shown last Wednesday night in Westminster West. She was named Vermont's Teacher of the Year in 1970 and awarded an honorary degree by Marlboro College in 1996.
She never stopped teaching. Her daughter said she was part of a teacher's center that provided mentoring for new teachers, she traveled all over the country sharing her ideas on teaching and worked with Windham County reads and other area organizations devoted to a love of books and learning.
Alice also shared with me some other comments that were shared with her when her mother passed away.
"As you know, she was extraordinarily beloved in Westminster West, Brattleboro, Vermont and beyond."
"She taught kids, and then their kids, never losing her spark, humor, creativity or way-beyond-anything-you-could-expect dedication."
"The impressive thing about Claire was that she passionately valued every child. She managed always to find something a child responded to and build on that.
"Also impressive was her skill at dragooning parents, miscellaneous citizens and anyone who happened by into coming to the school and sharing their lives and skills with her students."