Born and raised in San Angelo, Laura Elms always knew she wanted to be a teacher and has been doing exactly what she loves for over 4 decades. She now teaches at lake view high school and calls her classroom a magical place.
That’s also how she describes the feeling she gets knowing she makes a difference in her student’s lives.
“This young man, he faced many problems in life. He came to me his junior year and asked if he could be my student aide, and I was like…uh, you know I don’t ever use an aide. And then that afternoon, it was like a lightning bolt hit me and I said, ‘wait a minute, what are we here for?’ So, I looked him up and said, ‘you know what, I found out I could have an aid next year.’ And we spent most of the year, he didn’t do much paperwork, we spent most of the year working on just skills and when he graduated, in the yearbook, the one thing he put beside his name, ‘I was Mrs. Elms aide.” So that’s pretty important when you can change a life like that, I think,” Elms said.
She says she knows the impact she has is lasting, even if she doesn’t see the results right away.
“I’ve had thousands of students, but you just know when you see them in a store, you see them here, you see them there. You know. You know you’ve made a difference, and you get the letters, they send the letters all the time. My student Jason McCoy, our student from Lake View who graduated from Harvard, when he left, he left at 3 o’clock in the morning down at the bus depot. And our theatre arts teacher and I were there to see him off. And he wrote a letter and said ‘I knew you’d be there. I knew you’d be there.’ You help kids that way. They never forget that. They don’t forget,” Elms said.
Her advice to others is simple: don’t wait.
“If you’re determined to do something, do it. Just do it. Find a mentor. I’ve had so many mentors in my life. You just find someone that you know, and it helps when they think you’re wonderful too. We grew up thinking we were amazing because all of these strong women told us we were…and we believed that,” Elms said.
The following is Laura Elms’ nomination letter:
“She’s touched thousands of lives and helped make millions of dreams possible. Laura Elms has taught high school now for over 48 years. She is a San Angelo native, and tells stories of her father’s printing business, her mother making sandwiches for the guys on the trains, and riding her horse. She can’t go anywhere without having a former student run to give her a hug. She’s helped kids with nothing to their name find success in places like Harvard, and shaped many of our community’s leaders. She remembers floods, tornadoes, and fires – helping her neighbors and students Re-build and move forward- relentlessly pursuing their dreams. San Angelo has been a better place because of Mrs. Laura Elms.”