West Cheatham Elementary School’s tight-knit family of students and staff is honoring the memory of a beloved teacher, co-worker, and friend. Vickey Ford, 54, a veteran educator who taught for nearly three decades, passed away suddenly at her home on Oct. 21. According to many who knew her, the first-grade teacher known as “Mrs. Vickey” showed her love and kindness to everyone she knew every single day.
Terri Lockert, Amy Gupton, and Heather Gupton worked together with Ford for over 20 years but have worked as a first-grade team together for over six years. The three said in a statement, “She loved with the biggest heart ever and never failed to say that she loved us. She loved us as if we were born into her family.”
And, as any family does, they shared plenty of funny stories. As the teachers stood out in the hall greeting their students before the bell rang in the morning, the crazy tales would be told, they said: “Amy was telling us a story about her dog being sprayed by a skunk. Vickey walked up to Amy and sniffed her. Then she said you smell like a skunk. This was the beginning of the skunk stories that followed.
“The last story she told us was about the armadillo getting in her house since the door had been left open. Her dogs chased it through the house barking. We laughed so hard that we don’t even remember the end of the story,” the teachers said.
Ford also forged solid relationships with other teachers at West Cheatham. Kindergarten teacher Sarah Roberts said she “loved messing with her about football because she was an Alabama fan and I am a Tennessee fan. Even though I had no bone in the fight with the team (ha-ha), I still messed with her and she would do the same to me. I’m really going to miss our early morning talks, sharing pictures of my son Easton, and just talking about life.”
Third-grade teacher Emily Hoilman worked afternoon bus duty with Ford at West Cheatham. “As the students would get on the bus, she would tell each student ‘Bye’ using their name. She would make it a point to know each student’s name so they would feel special. She also would not hesitate to tell them that she loved them. She was the epitome of a loving and caring teacher. We should all follow her example,” Hoilman said.
When Ford taught second grade, she and Kaye Hunter, West Cheatham’s music teacher, worked together with the second-grade teachers to create and present the second grade’s annual Veterans Day program. “Mrs. Ford was always full of pride about the students performing this program because her father was a Veteran, and she loved the patriotic songs we performed, especially the one called “Thank You Veterans.” Mrs. Ford will forever hold a special place in the hearts of West Cheatham,” Hunter said.
A cheerful soul, Ford always had time to share a smile and a kind word, wherever she was, whether it was the classroom, the office, the clinic, or the gym. Pam Brown, West Cheatham Elementary Attendance Secretary said, “She never left the office without saying ‘I love you Pamela.’ She was a bright spot in a cloudy day. We will miss her terribly.”
“When Vickey would come into the office, she would come into the clinic, play with my hair while she talked to me. When she left, she always told me that she loved me. We will miss her sweet heart,” said Connie Langley, West Cheatham Elementary School Nurse.
Amanda Nelson, West Cheatham’s Physical Education Teacher, said, “Mrs. Ford was one of the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met. She was so loving, and she made sure she told you how much she loved you. We’re going to miss her so much!”
Former co-worker Callie Meadows said Ford “exuded happiness and love. She made you feel genuinely loved, because she, in fact, loved you. The best way I know to honor Vickey, is to be more like her: To show love, give love fully, and live happily. What a privilege it was to have known her and to be loved by her.”
Just as she loved her work family, Ford loved her three sons and her granddaughter, and would talk about them on many occasions, said Amber Raymer, West Cheatham Principal. “She never missed an opportunity to tell us about their accomplishments and was very proud of all of them. Her face would just ‘light up’ whenever she talked about them,” Raymer said.
Vickey Ford is survived by her husband, John, and her three sons, as well as four brothers and five sisters.