Longtime East Depot High School teacher recognized, thanked by former students

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Everyone remembers that one teacher that made a lifelong impression. For Iris McCrea and many in the East Depot Street High School classes of 1959 to 1968, that teacher was Wellie Wilburn.

Wilburn, 95, was honored recently by former students from East Depot High and Fort Valley State University. McCrea said the celebration came to honor Wilburn as a phenomenal educator with over 40 years of service (1952-1992).

“At this event, she was highly touted as being dedicated, resourceful and motivating. She was passionate about her students and helping them build character and skills, and encouraged them to go on to higher education,” McCrea said.

“Her hopes and dreams became reality because many of the attendees have impacted their communities, their residing states, this nation, and the world by their careers, service and contributions, all thanks to her motivation and education.”

In response to the praise from her former students, Wilburn said it was a joy and a blessing to see how she’d touched her students’ lives years.

“It is a joy to know what you’ve done and what you’re still doing and I appreciate you for this day. In retrospect, to look back over the years to see how we came together, learned together, lived together and engaged in excellent activities and such a blessing,” Wilburn said. “Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. When I can see and understand what you have done and what you will continue to do, I say mission accomplished!”

McCrea said Wilburn was a big role model for her growing up.

“When I told her I didn’t know how I was going to go to college, she told me that I could do it and arranged a scholarship for me. I appreciated her because the reason I got to college was because she was such an influence on me. I ended up going to school at Clark Atlanta University, right across the street from Spelman where she graduated from,” McCrea said.

McCrea would go on to become a teacher for 35 years.  

“I became a teacher, just like my teacher, and I enjoyed every moment of my years of teaching,” McCrea said. “Mrs. Wilburn inspired and motivated me to get where I am today. To be able to honor such an educator of her magnitude is a blessing, and I am honored to say I am someone whose life she’s touched.”