The teacher that made the difference

Bob Patchen

Believe it or not, I was the quiet kid in school. I was introverted and shy. I dreaded when a teacher called on me to read or answer a question.


But even the quiet, shy kid has a teacher or teachers that make a huge difference in their life. For me, it was Miss Dixie Clough at Pleasant Elementary. Go Panthers!

After that, it was Mr. Bunce and Miss Gorton at Beaty, then in high school there were my history teachers, Mr. Baxter, Mrs. Morgan, and Mr. Fay.

I’m sure Miss Clough is aware the impact she had on me all these years later, but I doubt the teachers after that really have any idea.

If you’re reading this, thank you.

Recently, and sadly, we — the community — lost a friend, a neighbor, a beloved teacher. Katie Tremblay Rodgers passed after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

Cancer sucks.

Katie is a family friend, our neighbor, and had two of the three Patchen boys in her class. Isaac and Seth both had Katie in third grade at Warren Area Elementary Center.

Katie is everything an elementary teacher should be. She is an amazing educator.

Isaac is in ‘battle of the books’ now in high school. I can vividly remember he and Jodi reading together to reach the reading goal for Katie’s class. They read together almost every night. I have no idea how many books he read in third grade, but I know it was a lot. His love for reading was planted in third grade.

With Seth, the amount of battles Katie fought for us to help Seth out in her class… It’s staggering, thinking about it right now. She never stopped fighting.

I can only imagine the number of kids who remember and recognize Katie as “that teacher.”

The one who made a difference in their education.

It’s just who she was.

And, because of that, because of the lasting affect that she has left in this community, on our kids, and on education… the Times Observer is proud to announce the Katie Rodgers Teacher of the Year award. We will honor one teacher a year, in Katie’s memory.

The rules are relatively simple: Teachers will be nominated by other teachers or staff members. We ask that you submit their name, and what qualities you feel make them the Teacher of the Year, by emailing bpatchen@timesobserver.com.

The winner will be selected by a panel of judges and will receive a weekend trip to Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

Our goal is to honor one teacher this year, and one in each subsequent year.

Starting in 2021, the Times Observer is also going to launch a $1,000 annual scholarship to go to one student from Warren County who plans on majoring in Elementary Education.

Our goal and hope of these awards is not to rehash the immense pain and grief that Katie’s family must be feeling. Instead, it is to remind people of how many lives she touched, and that she was taken away from our community far too soon. But that her impact on the community, education, and her students will last for a very long time.


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