MAY —When Elizabeth Hunsaker got her teaching job in her native Borger, she loved the job so much, “it was like they wouldn’t have to pay me and I would do this,” Hunsaker recalled in her first grade classroom in May.

Working for free might not have been practical, since her husband, Jerry, got laid off around that time from his job in a refinery.

After 31 years in education — 25 years in May — Hunsaker still sees it as a thrill when her students learn and progress throughout a school year.

“When I first got out of high school I wanted to be a home ec teacher,” Hunsaker said. “But that would require me to move away from my boyfriend. Home ec was offered at Tech and  Denton, and those were the closest places. And I just didn’t want to move away like that.”

The boyfriend she didn’t want to leave was Jerry, her high school sweetheart. The two began dating as sophomores and got married two years after high school.

Hunsaker went to junior college in Borger for a year, then went to a training school that prepared her to work in a medical office.

Hunsaker stayed at home after her son and daughter were born. “As my youngest one was beginning to be ready for kindergarten, I’m thinking, what am I going to do with my time?” Hunsaker said. “I started back to school. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do it and I just took six hours the first semester and six hours the next.

“I chose elementary education as my degree plan. … I just like kids.”

Hunsaker attended West Texas University in Canyon — now known as West Texas A&M University — and commuted an hour each way from the family’s home in Fritch.  

Hunsaker got her first teaching job in Borger. After her husband was caught in a big layoff at the refinery, they decided to move to Coahoma, where Jerry tried unsuccessfully to get a job at the refinery there.

Hunsaker taught school for their year in Coahoma. Jerry wanted to retire in the Cisco area, where he had fond memories hunting and fishing with his grandfather.

“My principal at Coahoma used to be the principal at Rising Star,” Hunsaker said. “He said there’s a little school there — May. He said ‘let me call and see if they need anybody and I’ll put in a good word for you.’ And sure enough, they had an opening.”

Hunsaker taught first grade in May, moved to second grade briefly and returned to first grade. Jerry worked in carpentry and painting before retiring four years ago.

“His dream was to buy land, so we’ve got 120 acres here,” Hunsaker said.

Their daughter lives in Cross Plains, and their son lives in Carrollton. The Hunsakers have a total of six grandchildren.

Describing the source of her inspiration to teach, Hunsaker said,  “when I first began teaching, I loved it. I just fell in love with the job. It was like they wouldn’t even have to pay me and I would do this.

“I just still get a thrill. In first grade the thrill is seeing how their growth is, how they’re reading, sounding out words. At the end of the year, a lot of them can read a chapter book. It’s just amazing to see that knowledge grow.”