Deborah June Mason
Deborah June Mason was not known primarily as one who taught Latin; according to her students, she "taught life"; Latin was the means by which she did so. Her own life began on November 15, 1947, in Campbell County, Virginia. After graduating from Randolph-Macon Women's College in history, she began her 22-year career at Altavista High School in Altavista, Virginia teaching history, but when the Latin teacher was felled by a heart attack, she took over his classes. A resolution from the Virginia House of Delegates notes that she always encouraged her students "to contribute to their community and aspire to their full academic potential." Unmarried and with no children of her own, she called her students her "babies," and for ten summers took them to Italy to see and touch the monuments that made their classwork come to vivid life. She also took her students to different parts of America doing relief work for Habitat for Humanity, DAWN, American Red Cross Tsunami Relief, and in the last year of her life she led her students in volunteering for the Katrina Relief Program. Small wonder that she was named Campbell County Teacher of the Year in 1994 and the Central Virginia Governor's School Outstanding Educator in 1995. Small wonder that on February 11, 2006, her death was grieved by her students as sorely as they also joyously celebrated her life.
— Ward Briggs