Thousands of students have passed through Marian Sims’ classrooms in her 46-year teaching career, and Sims said she truly loved every one of “her babies.”
Now, she’s shouting that message to the world with a billboard in Chevy Chase.
“Mrs. Sims still loves & prays for you!” the billboard says in big chalk letters. “You & your families have all blessed my life in so many ways. Be safe & continue to bless this planet. Thank you & God bless you. Remember ... ‘Love love & hate hate.’”
The lower corner of the billboard references Philippians 1:3 in the New Testament.
The verse says, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”
On Monday afternoon, Sims let her nearly 5,000 Facebook friends know about the billboard.
“My precious ones, I have written you ALL a message. It’s on a billboard on the corner of Tates Creek and the Avenue of Champions (Euclid),” she wrote. “I didn’t want another day to pass without you knowing how I love you and how very blessed I have been to have you in my life, no matter how short or long.”
The responses from former students began flooding in.
Sims grew tearful on Tuesday as she told of one man’s message: “He said, ‘It was so good to know that I’m still your baby.’”
“I almost stood on Euclid Avenue and cried,” Donna Taylor Sturgeon wrote on Facebook. “You were the best teacher I ever had, bar none. ... the moment you told me in 4th grade that I had the most beautiful curls on my neck (which I hated) and that the boys would love them I knew I loved you. What a wonderful billboard to all your students.”
Sims said Tuesday that “today has been the richest day of my existence” because of the students’ responses.
I think my strength is teaching them to love people.
The billboard will be up through Jan. 5. Sims said she decided to put it up around the holidays because former students often come back home for Christmas, and she thought maybe more of them would see it.
Sims spent most of her career at Morton Middle and Cassidy Elementary, but she also taught for two years at Northern Elementary and led Fellowship of Christian Athletes programs at Henry Clay High School and the University of Kentucky. She also served on the UK board of trustees.
For years, she said she was attending a former student’s wedding or baby shower or even family reunion every weekend.
“Now I’m going to the grandchildren’s birthday parties,” she said.
A few former students are in prison. She corresponds with them too.
“They send me Mother’s Day cards,” she said.
After retiring from Fayette County Public Schools, Sims helped start the master of arts in teaching program at Morehead State University, where she still works.
“I’m actually teaching teachers to teach,” she said. “I think my strength is teaching them to love people.”