Rocky Mount Elementary Students Celebrate Retired Teacher’s 97th Birthday

During the school’s morning announcements on October 27, Rocky Mount Elementary School students and staff members celebrated the 97th birthday of Susie Belle Raper, a Cobb Couty School District retired first grade teacher. Raper’s two sons joined her for the celebration and a tour of the school.

When Susie Belle Raper first started teaching, she rode the Tallulah Falls Railway to and from her teaching job every week. For 36 years, she taught first graders how to read and write. She spent her last 18 years as an educator working at Blackwell Elementary School. However, when she retired, she didn’t stop working with Cobb students.

As a neighbor to Rocky Mount Elementary School, the veteran educator often served as a guest reader and also volunteered inside her grandsons’ classrooms.

To celebrate Raper’s dedication to teaching Cobb students, Rocky Mount staff members and students honored the former educator on her 97th birthday.

Wearing a happy birthday tiara, Raper listened as students, staff members, and her two sons sang happy birthday to her during the school’s morning televised announcements.

Raper’s face brightened when Principal Peggy Fleming, presented her with a basket full of handmade birthday cards from Rocky Mount students.

Her sons joked that their mom now has enough cards to read every day for the next year.

“It meant a whole lot to her,” her son Don Raper said. “She talks about her teaching career as much as she talks about anything in her life. This probably brought a lot of good memories for her. It is going to be a good memory for all of us.”

Her son remembers his mother as a very energetic teacher. He had difficulty keeping up with her as child when she taught at Green Acres Elementary School.

“She was relentless,” he added. “She would work whatever hours it took to do her job.”

Media paraprofessional Barb Evangelista, also known as Ms. E to the Rocky Mount students, didn’t want to miss an opportunity to take photos with Raper on her birthday. “Ms. E.” still remembers Raper from when the veteran educator volunteered in her grandchildren’s class.

After her birthday surprises, Raper was able to visit a class of her beloved first graders, who serenaded her again with the “Happy Birthday to You” song.

Raper also visited a kindergarten class and second grade class before departing for home to read her basket of birthday cards.