SUMTER, S.C. — When was the last time you saw your kindergarten classmates? Well, imagine seeing them 50 years after graduating kindergarten.
In 1972, Mrs. Rose Ford's kindergarteners sat for a class picture. They dressed their best that day with new haircuts and freshly scrubbed faces. Through time, their faces now stare back at you from the photo of the Jenkins Kindergarten in Sumter.
Don Phillips, one of the students, remembers the precise moment before the picture was taken.
“I don’t think my hair had been combed for four or five days," Phillips said. "She grabbed the comb and started from back here and went all the way up to the front.”
“She did not want to take that picture until everyone looked their best,” he added.
Now 50 years later, they sat together again, recreating that picture, some traveling from as far as Dallas, Atlanta, and North Carolina.
It was a trip of love for many of them.
Their teacher Mrs. Ford, an educator for more than 40 years, said she remembers them all.
“It’s just wonderful, some I have seen time and time again and some I haven’t seen since kindergarten," said Mrs. Ford.
Her students, to this day, hold a very special place in their hearts for the woman that taught them their ABCs.
Phillips is the little boy in the green sweater on the far right. He says, Ford had a lasting impact on his life.
“Mrs. Ford will always be my kindergarten teacher," he said. “I used to idolize her.”
Phillips said he has never forgotten Ford's kindness, describing how she would pick him up every morning to go to kindergarten.
“We just knew this long black car would be coming down the street and we were so excited because we were going to school,” he said.
“It was four or five kids, I had to leave early to take them to kindergarten,” Ford said.
Sitting together once again, on their 50th anniversary, Ford said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Her advice, after all these years of teaching, should be no surprise: The Golden Rule.
Be kind to one another.