Ms. 'Wag' makes difference in Pike Co.

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - At Charles Henderson High School in Troy, we take you to Betty Wagoner's class.

"Erin, have you got another one?" Wagoner asked a student.

Pull up a chair and hear what they have to say about the woman they call 'Wag.'

"I'll never forget Wag," said senior Taylor Smartt.

"She has not changed," said teacher Michelle Armstrong.

Hasn't changed in more than 40 years.

"There's no put-on with me," said Wagoner.

That's why they admire and respect Betty Wagoner around Charles Henderson High School. Wagoner taught Art for 15 years and later Business Ed and retired in 1995 yet Mrs. Wagoner couldn't stay away.

"You recall enjoy what you do. I enjoy working with young people, especially the seniors," said Wagoner.

These days Betty Wagoner heads up the activities around the high school like assemblies in the gym, bringing in speakers and putting the pages together for the school yearbook. By her own admission:

"I don't mince words with the kids," she said.

"You got to get these yearbook ads if you want to pass," Wagoner said with a little frustration in her voice.

That's what the kids love about 'Wag.' A graceful but no non-sense command of her class. Betty Wagoner tells it like it is.

"On announcements every morning I kind of talk fast and she's constantly telling me to slow down," said Taylor Smartt.

Michelle Armstrong graduated from Charles Henderson High in 1990 and is now a Math teacher at the school. Bring up the name of Betty Wagoner and Armstrong remembers.

"She'll tell you the truth whether it hurts or not. She cares for these kids more than you can ever imagine," said Armstrong.

And that care goes far beyond the classroom door.

"I talked with your mother last night," Wagoner told another student.

"She doesn't mean to be mean. She says stuff but it's for the best. She cares on a different level," said Smartt.

Wagoner says she can't quite understand it herself. The connection she shares with students but she guesses it's the approach, the honesty that's real and direct.

"It might be a touch. I just pour my heart out to them and tell them what I think and try to let them know they are loved and that they can accomplish something in their lives," said Wagoner.

Betty Wagoner loves her job so much that she is literally the first one at school every morning. 41 years and counting at the same school.

In Wag's world, respect and love flow both ways, leading the way with that guiding voice and open heart.

Now you're wondering, why the 'Wag' nickname. It's short for Betty's last name and it's uttered with respect.

Betty Wagoner says she intended to really retire and stay home this year but the principal talked her into coming back.  At 77 she says she's not sure about next year.

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