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Esther Culbertson

My name is Esther Garger Culbertson, and I hail from Roanoke, Virginia. I attended East Tennessee State University, where I had the pleasure of meeting my wonderful husband. Although I had been accepted into the University of Virginia Law School and my soon-to-be husband had been accepted into dental college, we made the decision to forgo these opportunities. My father-in-law had recently acquired Astro Lincoln Mercury and needed our assistance, so we relocated to Pensacola.

Through a connection with my father-in-law, I was introduced to Ralph Godwin, the Principal at Tate High School. He convinced me to join the teaching staff at Tate, and it was a truly rewarding experience. I was amazed at the impact I could make on the lives of these young individuals, and their determination and passion served as an inspiration to me. After teaching for two years, our journey led us to South Carolina, where we ventured into opening another Ford store with my husband's uncle. Following several years in South Carolina, we returned to Pensacola.

During the time that our two boys were growing up, I dedicated myself to being a stay-at-home mother. However, once they entered school, I found myself longing for the sense of fulfillment I experienced through assisting young people at Tate. I rejoined the school and initiated a Law Studies program, which involved taking students to the jail and prison in Century. It was a truly eye-opening experience for both the students and myself.

Driven by a desire for personal growth, I pursued a Master's Degree at the University of West Florida in the evenings. Two of my fellow teachers from Tate also embarked on this educational journey alongside me. As fate would have it, Jim May, the Principal at the time, encouraged me to take on a part-time role as a Dean. The following year, he insisted that I transition into a full-time position due to the positive impact I was making on the students. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Dean, as the students were exceptional and made my job feel effortless. In the evenings, I would often receive phone calls addressing various issues, and I would consistently prioritize helping them navigate away from making mistakes.

In 2014, I made the difficult decision to retire. Looking back, I find myself wishing I had decided otherwise. Nevertheless, I find joy in staying connected with and spending time with many of my exceptional students from Tate, as well as individuals I have met throughout my journey. Additionally, I am an active member of several Krewes and a wonderful church. It brings me immense pleasure to contribute to the happiness and fulfillment of others, just as I have experienced in my own life.

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