It was the year that U.S. astronauts first walked on the moon, and Sesame Street debuted on television. It was also the birth year of a host of celebrities including Tyler Perry, Gwen Stefani, and Jennifer Aniston.
The year was 1969, the first year Annette Hansard stepped into a classroom to begin her extensive teaching career. In August 2019, the veteran teacher was recognized by the Cobb County Board of Education for 50 years of service to Cobb students.
Hansard had only been married a few days when she welcomed her first class of students to what was then Osborne Junior High. In fact, she married the Saturday before class on Monday. Hansard and her husband celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the same night Superintendent Chris Ragsdale honored her for her 50 years in the classroom.
“I began in an age of no computers, state attendance registers, and ditto machines. We now have computer labs, individual computers, and copiers,” Hansard explained.
When ninth grade moved to Osborne High School, Hansard transitioned as well. Despite all the other changes, she said the biggest changes at Osborne include the new school building and Cobb Career Academy that are currently under construction on campus. She can watch the construction of the Cobb Career Academy from her classroom window.
The veteran educator, who teaches social studies, has served as Osborne’s department chair for 23 years.
She has no plans to retire.
“I cannot imagine my life without teaching. If I did retire, I would still want to work with students,” the social studies teacher revealed.
The students—they are the reason she has stayed in the classroom for half of a century.
“I truly believe teachers are called,” the Osborne educator explained. “Even in high school, I wanted to be a teacher. Going to work is not a job. I get to touch the future of our world every day. There is no greater feeling of joy.”
Osborne’s longest-serving educator carries her students in her heart long after they have left her classroom and Cobb County.
One such student excelled in her World History class decades ago and was the Osborne High School drum major at the time. Across the years, Hansard has followed Dominic Lovello’s career in the U.S. Navy.
She kept in touch with him during his service in Desert Storm and his college career at the University of Hawaii. When he became the commander at Fort Whidbey Island, Washington, he invited his former high school teacher and her husband to join him for his celebration.
“Dominic mentioned me in his speech; and, of course, I cried,” the Osborne educator added.
Her former student is now a captain in the U.S. Navy and stationed in Naples, Italy. When back in the United States, the Navy captain and his family visit with the teacher who helped him understand the importance of World History so many years ago.
“[That] is what teaching is all about – the students, and helping them achieve their dreams,” Hansard explained.
She’s Impacted Thousands
Hansard’s legacy will live on through the thousands of students, like Capt. Lovello, that she has taught through the years.
After teaching 34 years, Hansard calculated that her list of former students totaled more than 10,000. Now, after five decades she estimates that the number of students is above 15,000!
Her students have gone on to be doctors, surgeons, teachers and more. Some have even followed in her footsteps and returned to Cobb County Schools to serve as teachers too. Her former pupils include a Cobb Middle School Teacher of the Year.
Hansard herself is a product of the Cobb County School District. She still smiles as she recalls the first day of her freshman year at South Cobb High School–the place she decided to become a teacher.
Watching the veteran teacher engage with students in her classroom, it’s clear why so many return to visit, stop her on the street, or invite her to pivotal events in their life, like Capt. Lovello did. She cares. She understands students. She encourages them.
For Hansard, the students haven’t changed. She still knows how to reach them with her quirky antidotes. Her mission hasn’t changed: to help every student succeed and achieve their dreams.
In tribute to her dedication to Osborne students, the school’s freshman building is named after her.
Teaching is her life’s calling, but what has kept her at Osborne her entire teaching career?
“We have lived in the Osborne community for 50 years. My son, Cory, graduated from Osborne High School in 1997. I am a part of Osborne, and it is a part of me,” Hansard said.