Dianne Webb was the Top Tiger on campus — complete with a tiara — as the Irving Elementary staff gathered together on Friday to honor the first grade teacher on her final day in the classroom and 52 years in education.
“I can’t wait to see what God has for me next,” Webb said as she chronicled her half-century of service, which began in 1969 at Santa Fe Elementary School.
“We were all new teachers,” Webb said. “We were with our students the entire day, including lunch and PE. We had so much fun. When I got my first paycheck — $289 — I wanted to give it back because I loved what I was doing so much, it was payment enough.”
Webb’s service record in CISD includes two years at C.C. Cooke Elementary School, followed by 32 years as a first-grade teacher at Coleman Elementary School. Webb retired from Coleman in 2007, only to return to teaching months later.
“I started in that classroom at Coleman, and never changed rooms,” she said. “When I cleaned it out — woo!”
Her classroom included an organ, that belonged to her mother. Webb said her students always began the day in song.
“Joe Ripple, who served as the principal at Coleman before he became the principal at the high school, would say on the morning announcements, ‘Mrs. Webb — let’s get that organ going,’” she said. “We maybe got a little loud at times, but we had fun.”
Cory Borden, CISD director of Special Education, was among those in attendance for the surprise luncheon. Borden was among the Coleman Colts to have Webb as their first-grade teacher.
“I remember Mrs. Webb being kind and caring to all her students, and just a loving and nurturing teacher to a group of first graders who were brand new to the campus,” Borden said. “I was able to work with her at Irving Elementary when I was assigned as their assistant principal. She has always loved teaching children, and treated them as her own. I would always get the biggest hugs from her, and she would always ask how I was doing.”
“Mrs. Webb impacted thousands of Cleburne ISD students — and she will be missed.”
Following her “first” retirement, Webb served as a substitute teacher at Marti, then at Irving. Dr. Juanita Reyes, Irving principal at the time, asked Webb to join the faculty.
“I’d prayed for that,” Webb said. “I wanted to teach again. After years of teaching first graders, I worked with all grade levels at Irving through a pull-out reading program. I fell in love with the opportunity to work with learners of all ages and to see them grow in their reading abilities. It’s the greatest joy when a child picks up a book and starts reading.”
A FaceTime call from former Irving principal Joel Blalock was among Webb’s numerous surprises of the morning, along with an appearance by Reyes.
“I’ve known Joel since he was in the sixth grade,” she said. “He and my son were classmates. When he came to Irving, I thought ‘oh my goodness, he’s so young,’” she said. “I enjoyed having him as our principal, and was very proud to see him at work as a campus leader.”
Webb, who grew up in Cedar Hill, felt an immediate connection with Principal Sherqueena Jackson, now in her third year at Irving. Jackson’s resume includes two years as an assistant campus administrator with Cedar Hill ISD.
“When I met Mrs. Webb, we instantly connected over more than just our love for teaching,” Jackson said. “She is the type of teacher anyone would want on their staff, because of her optimistic attitude and loving spirit. There is no such thing as a bad day with Mrs. Webb.
“She touched every life that crossed her path, and you instantly became a better person just by listening to — and learning from her. She is the epitome of a servant leader, and a dedicated educator. I will definitely miss our daily talks and her being our students’ biggest advocate.”
Jackson anticipates seeing Webb back on campus at some point as a school volunteer and a mentor to teachers new to Irving — after she takes some time for herself and with her family — and sees the world. Dianne’s husband of 52 years, and fellow educator, Tommy Webb, also dropped by to surprise his wife at her big event.
“God has given us so many stages in our lives,” Webb said. “I’ve enjoyed every one. I’ve learned so much from those I have worked with, and also my students. Teaching was my childhood dream. It’s been wonderful to have touched the lives of the many students who were in my classroom.”