McCrabb: Kindergarten teacher, former student reunited 44 years later through book club

Both were scared the night before they were scheduled to meet.

One was about to attend his first day of kindergarten and the other was about to be reunited with that same student 44 years later.

Eric Sheridan Wyatt said he had “a complete breakdown” before his first day of kindergarten at Adams Elementary School in Hamilton. But his teacher, Barbara Blair, put him at ease.

“Never had that feeling again,” he said.

Then recently, when Wyatt was set to talk about his new book to a group of former Butler County teachers, Blair was apprehensive. She was 35 when she taught Wyatt. Now she’s 79.

“I hardly slept that whole weekend,” she said. “I thought, ‘What is he going to think when he sees me?’ I was so nervous.”

But when the two met, the years melted away.

He was Eric and she was Mrs. Blair.

After Wyatt discussed his book, “In Loco Parentis,” with members of Delta Kappa Gamma Society, he had lunch with Blair.

“Great time,” said Wyatt, 48. “She has a great spirit of caring and compassion.”

Blair, who lives in Fairfield, taught kindergarten for eight years, the “best eight years ever,” she said.

She said the development of a kindergartner from the first day of school to the last is immeasurable.

“They start out so scared and nervous, then they gain confidence and are reading by the end of the year,” she said.

Amazingly, Blair, who retired from teaching in 2002 after 30 years, has kept in contact with many of her former students. She has mailed them graduation cards, attended their bridal showers, baby showers, weddings and even attended their funerals.

When Wyatt graduated in 1991 from Hamilton High School, he was a cashier at Marsh’s. After Blair found out where he worked, she stopped by and dropped off his graduation card.

That was the last time they had seen each other until a few months ago.

Blair was told by a former student that Wyatt, who was living in Florida, had written his seventh book, this one set in Adams Elementary. They communicated through email and he agreed to discuss his latest novel with the book club in a Zoom meeting.

Then the book club was cancelled for months due to the coronavirus pandemic. When the club resumed its meetings in May, Blair contacted Wyatt about setting up another Zoom meeting. But he had moved to Florence, Ky., and agreed to drive to Hamilton for the meeting.

The book’s title is a legal term that means “in place of the parent.”

While teachers don’t take the place of parents, they fill the role for several hours a day. During the school year, students spend as much time with their teachers as they do their parents.

That’s where teachers like Mrs. Blair earn their money.

“I wanted the best for my students as if they were my children,” said Blair, who has two daughters, Andrea Batt and Christin Blair. “Give them a good experience, a happy experience.”


TITLE: “In Loco Parentis”

AMAZON: Search under Eric Sheridan Wyatt

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