Dorothy “Mrs. B” Buchanan, a staple of Mountainview Elementary School for almost six decades, had an ability to connect with every child, co-workers say.
“I’ve got a book for you,” is the phrase Mountainview kindergarten teacher Kathy Chandler hears when she thinks of Buchanan.
Mountainview students looked forward to trips to the library to see Mrs. B, Chandler said. She had a well-known habit of specially selecting books for individual students, particularly those she knew struggled to stay interested in reading.
“She’d help them let go of their comfort zone,” Chandler said. “She knew who they were, what they were and what they needed.”
“If we didn’t have the book, she would buy the book herself and save it for that child,” Mountainview Principal Melissa Pritchard said. “Their eyes would light up when she would have the newest book hidden behind the counter for them.”
Buchanan, 86, had worked 58 years as a teacher and librarian in Waco Independent School District before retiring in June.
She died Sunday morning. A memorial service will be held Saturday at OakCrest Funeral Home in Waco.
This week, Mountainview co-workers gathered in the school library, in Mrs. B’s reading nook, to talk about the impact she had on their lives, the school and the lives of their students. Many tears were shed as the five educators remembered their favorite librarian.
Kindergarten teacher Michael Haskett and Primary Years Program coordinator Ashlee Brewster said Buchanan helped them persevere through tough times as young educators.
“I think a lot of times it’s easy as a new teacher to stay isolated, and she made sure to bring you in,” Haskett said. “She made sure none of us were strangers in a sense.”
Brewster turned to the librarian for guidance during what she described as a difficult first year teaching at Mountainview.
“She told me to hang in there, you got it, you’re earning your halo,” Brewster said as she wiped tears from her eyes. “I had a challenging class but she was always very encouraging.”
Buchanan defined school spirit, Pritchard said. She always dressed up for themed dress-up days and decorated the library “to the hilt” for Christmas. Every employee loved Buchanan, and Buchanan loved them just the same, she said.
“She always told you she loved you,” Pritchard said.
Parents of Mountainview students, and many former Mountainview students themselves, would ditch the car line to stop by and chat with Buchanan, she said.
Most importantly, Buchanan had an unforgettable and irreplaceable way with children, the educators said.
Every morning, sitting in a rocker, with an oversized multi-colored flower cushion, Buchanan read stories to prekindergarten students.
“She just had a way of reading that was hysterical,” Mountainview second-grade teacher Laura Alford said. “Every time she read to them I would just sit and laugh. I wish I had recorded it. To this day there are certain books I won’t read because I can’t read them like her.”
The group said Buchanan remembered every child’s name, along with the titles, authors and levels of each book in the library.
When the staff threw her a surprise retirement party in June, the little library was so packed it was hard to get in the doors, Pritchard said. Former and current students, parents and staff, even a former principal, attended to give Mrs. B a memorable farewell.
“Mountainview was her life,” Alford said. “It was hard to walk by this library and her not be here.”
Although she had retired, they fully expected to see her pop in occasionally this fall.
“We talk a lot, as educators, about making connections with our students,” Haskett said. “She was a master at making connections with us, with the students, with the students to the text, just building that relationship. She loved the students and she loved everyone. The easiest way to put it is just love, she loved well.”