Creating a Better Tomorrow
Jeffrey Willard began teaching in a small town in Oklahoma, and in his first year, he told his students that after their year with him, they would carry “the Willard stamp” for the rest of their lives. He was an anomaly who has left an impression on the lives of everyone he knew.
Mr. Willard taught at the Hebron 9th Grade Campus from its inception and was the campus’s first Teacher of the Year in 2011. If you walked into his classroom, you might think you had stepped back in time. There were stacks of paper lining the walls, a John Coltrane poster, a lectern made from cardboard boxes, desks in rows, and a filing cabinet covered in sticky notes. If you were lucky enough to walk into his classroom while he was lecturing, you would have seen a man speaking passionately while 9th graders took notes furiously. You would have heard how brilliant this man was and noticed how he was teaching students how to be students. He didn’t have any presentations or slides, and he didn’t print any handouts. As he spoke, he paused and repeated words and phrases, noting his punctuation, and he would call out things like “arrow” because he was teaching students how to take notes. If you saw him on duty, he was always walking with at least one student, talking them through how to improve their writing or helping them understand a concept. If you saw him at the end of a semester, you’d see a worried and stressed teacher who felt like he still had so much knowledge to impart and not enough time.
He was an unforgettable and dedicated teacher: “You taught me so much. And it wasn’t just grammar— You taught me how to write with intent. You taught me to think critically. You were one of the best favorite teachers I’ve ever had. The warm feeling of calm and peace that I felt reading or writing or listening or laughing (lots and lots of laughing) in your class—are all that I can remember for now.”
He was a quirky and kind colleague: “His quick questions, Marxist theory, custom t-shirts, and absence of vowels were just a few of the many things that made Jeff undoubtedly and wonderfully unique. We love Jeff, and our hearts are broken. There will never be another wilrd, and our lives are all the better for having known him.”
He was a loving husband and devoted father: “Mere months after I met Jeff, he convinced me to marry him by saying that he saw me as the mother of his children. Raising a child with him has been the most fulfilling adventure of my life. Marcie is certainly the embodiment of that Willard stamp. He was very careful to instill his values in her from the moment she could begin to understand them. She loved and respected her daddy and was eager to soak up everything he wanted to teach her. I am proud to be able to share the Willard name.”
At the end of that first year of teaching, Jeff’s students presented him with an actual, working inkstamp, which now belongs to his daughter, Marcie. The Willard family and the Hebron community believe that the Willard stamp should continue to imprint on students’ lives for generations to come through a memorial scholarship. You can make a gift to honor Jeff below by donating to the scholarship fund and/or by donating to his family to help provide care and education for his 10-year-old daughter.
Thank you for your help in honoring Jeff’s legacy. As a fan of young persons, he always believed student loans hindered their future success. To carry on his legacy, you can make a gift to fund the Jeff Willard Memorial Scholarship below.
In this time of need, you can also support the Willard family by making a gift that will allow the family to meet current and future needs, including educational support for Mr. Willard’s daughter and any immediate expenses. Thank you!