A Celebration of Linda Stubblefield
by Andrea Gerhard
Just a few weeks ago, another school year came to a close. For the Class of 2018, high school and college seniors celebrated their achievements through graduation ceremonies and parties.
But at our Lutheran School Association (LSA), there was another special group of “graduates” this year who have contributed a wealth of experience and compassion along with countless, countless hours of dedicated service as they invested in the next generation of children year after year. The end of the school year also meant the beginning of retirement for Rita Bishop, Dorothy Damery, Mary Tomkinson, and our member, Linda Stubblefield. Linda celebrated her birthday this week, and we celebrate her and her thirty-four years given to the LSA!
Here’s just a bit about Linda…
Linda Stubblefield grew up in Decatur and has been happily married for almost 43 years to George Stubblefield, her husband. God has blessed them with three daughters – Jennifer, Mandy, and Melissa. They are proud grandparents to Brycen, Evan, Andrew, Grace, and twins Madelynne and Miranda, and also two step grandchildren Rylie, and Ellie. Their family has been members of St. Paul’s where they have been actively involved through the years as she taught in our Lutheran School Association. Linda says, “Christian education has always been a priority in our family. I am proud to say that I am an LSA graduate as are all of our daughters.”
Linda’s family is most important to her and her greatest joy is spending time with them. Additionally, when not teaching, she enjoys reading, shopping, and listening to music. She is an avid sports fan and loves to cheer on the Fighting Illini, Chicago Bears, and St. Louis Cardinals. It was also widely known among her students that her favorite color is pink.
Herself a graduate of Douglas MacArthur High School here in Decatur, she received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Western Illinois University and her colloquy from Concordia University – River Forest. Before coming to teach at the Lutheran School Association, she taught Kindergarten, Fifth Grade, Sixth Grade, and the gifted program in Decatur Public Schools and was Director/Teacher for Pre-Kindergarten at Trinity Lutheran Church.
In total, she taught at LSA for 34 years. In the beginning, she taught morning and afternoon Kindergarten and piloted the first all day Kindergarten class the following year. Shortly after, she moved to the First Grade teaching position and has continued in that role ever since. Over the years at LSA, Linda has worn many hats. She wrote and directed several children’s programs, coached Pom Pons, served on a visiting team for NLSA, served as director of LSA’s summer enrichment program, served as a mentor to student teachers and prospective teachers, served as editor of the LSA Pride newsletter, and served as director of St. Paul’s Kinder Chor 1 children’s choir. She is a past President and member of Macon County Reading Council, and a member of the Illinois Reading Council. She is not a stranger to serving nor to helping students achieve their very best in the process of learning.
Linda enjoyed each day of her teaching career and she found great joy in being able to teach at a school where she could integrate faith into the various areas of the curriculum and help each child realize he or she is an important and valued part of God’s creation. She praises God for having the opportunity to observe each child in their daily growth in the Lord and together as a family of God. She always encouraged her students to think of the classroom as a family – one in which each member of the family loves and cares for each other and prays for each other.
As a parent, my experience with Linda Stubblefield has been one where I can say her actions matched her words. Linda has stated, “I believe all children are gifts from God. He entrusted me with their education for one short year (as first graders). In this time, I want to teach them respect for God, respect for the beautiful world He created, and respect for each other. I want them to know Jesus as their personal Friend and Savior.” She has also said, “I love being creative in my teaching methods – going outside the pages of the textbook to incorporate activity-based lessons to aid in the nurture and development of young children.” Her classroom was filled with a yearly theme, and hallmarked by the Robot project and presentation of the story of Chicken Little in creative ways. The importance and love of reading was evident, and the kids were excited for her collection of chapter books (especially Henry and Mudge) as they reached that reading level. It was evident that Christian education was a priority for Linda, and within that she also made her students feel like her priority. Linda demonstrated clear expectations and a heart for helping her students achieve them – she offered loving discipline when needed and celebrated success.
Having had two children in her classroom within the last few years, I can say I not only witnessed these things from her, I also saw the seeds of these behaviors planted in my children because of her. As they passed through her classroom, I watched my children gain a deeper knowledge of and love of Jesus even at their young age. I also saw them gain greater confidence in their skills and abilities because she encouraged them through the learning challenges and creative experiences she offered them. My two oldest children became great readers as they grew a love for reading (that has not ceased). They learned how to write a power-ful paragraph which set the foundation for the writing they are now able to do. She encouraged them to organize their thoughts well while also being creative. I got to witness my kids learn how to write their own short story and bring it to life through the Robot project, and then gain the skill of presenting to the group and fielding questions at the age of six years old. This is a skill that will be so valuable to them in life – and they learned how to just be themselves and that they didn’t have to be afraid. My soon to be sixth grader and fourth grader are sad their younger siblings won’t get to have that experience with Mrs. Stubblefield – they know that so many of the foundations laid in her classroom have enabled them to be successful in school. They echo the love for their teacher that was shown to them, and they give thanks for the time she gave to them and all her students (including their dad when he was a kindergartener) over the years.
Thank you, Linda Stubblefield, for faithfully serving our LSA as you fully used all the gifts God has given to you while also showing and sharing the love of Jesus. Thank you for showing us the importance of making HIM a PRIORITY and why Christian education should be a priority for our families and generations to come. We are thankful and pray for God’s continued blessing upon you and your family!