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Educator, AHS advocate honored today

A former educator who has given back to her alma mater both as a teacher and as an advocate is one of five people being honored as an AHS Outstanding Graduate today.

Suan Riley Salter, who graduated from AHS in 1948, spent most of her education career in a fourth grade classroom at East Three Notch Elementary.

Her former students recall that she would stand at the door waiting for them to come up the stairs.

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“She was awesome,” said Amy Pitts Dugger, now a school board member. “She would let us be who we wanted to be.”

Specifically, Dugger recalled, Mrs. Salter didn’t react when the girls applied mascara and lipstick in the cloakroom.

“She didn’t make a big deal over it, so you know what happened. We forgot about it and did our work.”

Both Dugger and another former student, Brooke Hallford Blair, now an educator, remembered that Salter was a teacher who cared.

“You really knew that that teacher cared, even as a fourth grader,” Blair recalled, adding that when she struggled with multiplication tables, her teacher volunteered to stay after school and help.

Salter earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Alabama College (now Montevallo University), and a master’s degree in education from Auburn University.

She taught home economics in Henry County, and at Sidney Lanier and Robert E. Lee in Montgomery, then worked as home economist with Alabama Power for nine years.

And then she came home to Andalusia, and Coach Horace McInnish called, persuading his former student to join the faculty at East Three Notch Elementary. She completed her elementary certification at Troy University, did advanced studies at Auburn, and spent 22 years as a local teacher.

“My students never knew the absolute joy I felt every day in the classroom! I looked forward to every day,” Salter said.

But her students disagreed.

“Her enthusiasm was contagious,” Dugger said. “She always smiled. And if there was anything wrong, you didn’t know it.”

Salter also has been instrumental in the work of the Andalusia High School Class of 1948 Foundation, which awards scholarships to AHS graduates. When that group founded the AHS Outstanding Graduate award, Salter was asked to lead the committee, a job she held until April of this year.

“Suan is the compassionate heart of the Foundation,” said her high school classmate, Bob Brown. “Aside from her intelligence, she is blessed with qualities of loyalty and dedication to AHS, the Class of 1948 Foundation and the Outstanding Graduate Committee that are possessed by no other. We are so fortunate that she would share some of her life with us.”

That dedication to her alma mater and hometown has not gone unnoticed. Even after the Salters left Andalusia, she continued to play an active role in the community.

“She kept on loving Andalusia, even after she left,” Dugger said. “She never quit loving us and giving back.”

“She motivated hundreds of kids to learn subject matter, character and people skills,” wrote her nominator, Jim Krudop. “She has made a positive impact on hundreds of elementary school kids as their teacher.”

Salter and her husband, Bill, have two daughters and four grandchildren. She currently lives in Panama City.

Others who will be recognized as Outstanding Graduates at today’s luncheon are Shelby Searcy, Roger Powell, Richard Anthony and Suzanne Brown Fornaro.