TYLER- Twenty-one years ago William (Bill) Myers' neighbor, a teacher at Owens Elementary School, encouraged him to visit her classroom to read to her students. Nervous, and unsure if he'd like it, Mr. Myers turned down her request.
After weeks of persistence, he finally agreed and began reading to her second grade students. At age 87, he continues to read to students at Owens Elementary today. When his neighbor later resigned from the school, Mr. Myers was introduced to first grade teacher Frances Broome, who has welcomed him into her classroom every Thursday morning since.
"Mr. Myers has inspired my students for 17 years," Mrs. Broome said. "His love of books is contagious. He often tells me about seeing former Owens students and parents around town."
"Frances has been a great help to me and I have learned to love being a reader to the children," Mr. Myers said. "I am amazed at how much the students improve their reading skills as we go through the year. I'm pleased for both the children and the school to see that happen."
Choosing weekly titles from his own collection of almost 100 books, Mr. Myers carefully selects books he thinks should be read at that particular point in the year.
"It did not take me long to realize that certain books should be read at certain times," he said. "The books I read in September and October are not good for May because the children have progressed so much in their reading skills by the end of the year."
Students will often ask him to bring books back for him to read again because they enjoyed them so much, which he says brings him great pleasure. What is his favorite book to read? Pickle Chiffon Pie by Lolly Roger Bradfield.
Mr. Myers is not only adored by students. Every Thursday morning the front staff at Owens eagerly waits for his sweet smile to enter the office.
"Mr. Myers is best described as a servant leader and teacher," Laurie Greathouse, principal at Owens, said. "We are incredibly thankful that he chooses to share his love of reading and amazing knowledge in our classrooms. There is always a new favorite book to share, a story of adventure, or a tale from far away to spark their imaginations. We thank him for his years of dedication and are proud that he is a member of the Owens Eagle family."