By MIRANDA G. BAILEY
Retired PHS Chemistry teacher Elaine Ledbetter is a hidden jewel no more.
Thanks to the hard work and gracious
appreciation of one of her former students, Mrs.
Ledbetter's life is now chronicled on the information superhighway.
Elaine, 81, has her own web page.
PHS graduate R. Malcolm Brown Jr.,
a prominent University of Texas botany professor, set
up the web page in his favorite teacher's honor this year because he said he feels the rest of
the world deserves the opportunity to get to know Elaine Ledbetter.
"Elaine is a hidden jewel. I had
her poetry journals for years," Brown explained. "I thought
what a resource she would be if the world could see her work."
He continued, "I decided to make
a web page because I wanted people to appreciate Elaine.
She's kind of like Shakespeare up here in the middle of nowhere."
Months in the making, Brown complied
her poetry volumes, a book about her life, and
artistic photographs the teacher has taken. He designed the web page himself and has placed
it on a computer server from his University of Texas office. He said this server gets at least
50,000 "hits" or inquiries a month.
As an added bonus, readers will
get the chance to enter the world of Elaine Ledbetter with
the sweet sounds of background piano music played by Brown. With only the click of a
button, many of her poem's can be read with accompaniment pieces composed by Brown. He
wrote the songs specifically, he said, with Elaine's words in mind.
"Of all the honors I've received, this tops them all," Elaine said.
Brown looked a little taken aback by her comment.
"Do you know how many honors she has received?"
Ledbetter's work on teaching chemistry
in Pampa and her involvement as president of a
national science teacher's organization has brought her many honors in her lifetime.
At one point, she received a year-long
scholarship that allowed her to observe 2000 science
classrooms all over the country. She wrote a book, "Keys to Chemistry," that sold 100,000
Mrs. Ledbetter was responsible for
promoting some of the first student science fairs in
Pampa more than 40 years ago, when science fairs were first becoming a trend. She went on
to accompany many of her students to regional fairs, and some of them to national level
R. Malcolm Brown Jr. was the first student she went with to a national fair in California.
It was this event that changed the course of her life, she says in her book, "Called to Teach."
Malcolm won the regional competition
and qualified for the national science fair at a time
when her teaching had become what she described as "stale."
I was seriously thinking about giving up on teaching, said Ledbetter in her book.
When Malcolm qualified for the competition,
they were both flown to L.A., and it was during
her time in California that her eyes were opened to the new ways science could be taught
through science fairs, and more hands-on experiments. She said the fair inspired her, and
gave her a new perspective on both science, and teaching.
"Now you're going to inspire more people," Brown said.
He and his wife Ann drove to Pampa
over the weekend to show Elaine the web site in
"I predict you'll get 1,000 responses a month," he said.
Brown presented Elaine with a copy
of a letter he's already received from a reader in
Pennsylvania who happened upon the web site.
"Thank you for allowing me to enter a site of sheer enjoyment," the letter read.
Brown has sent a link to Elaine's web site to Pampa ISD Superintendent Dawson Orr.
"I hope school kids can identify
that teachers can be so important. And Elaine has had such a
tremendous impact on so many people," said Brown.
Brown said he has been talking with
Doug Locke of Pampa Cybernet, also a former student
of Mrs. Ledbetter, and he hopes to get her computer set up with Internet access shortly.
The web page can be accessed by going to www.botany.utexas.edu.
Computer surfers will find Malcolm
Brown's name with a box beside it. Click there, he said,
it will take you to his personal web page, and it is there you will find the world of Pampa's
Back to Elaine Ledbetter Main Page- Click HERE
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