Friends of Esmont Virginia
Revitalizing Esmont Virginia

Thank You, Esmont Elementary Teachers

​I was born in Cuba in 1943, a time when  there was not a lot of information available regarding childbirth.  I had the unfortunate experience of taking a slow ride down the birth canal,  depriving  me of much needed oxygen.  That oxygen deprivation resulted in some of my brain cells dying.  Otherwise, I was a healthy, thriving baby.  

Eventually though, my parents and physicians could tell something was causing slow development in my motor skills.  This resulted in me being labeled “retarded.” 

By the time I was ready to go to school, my father, an International Banker, had been transferred back to the US and we had moved to a farm in Esmont, named Estouteville.   My parents decided to take me to Esmont Elementary School, a small four-room school close by, to see how I would perform.  At this point, I could walk and talk, however, my primary language was Spanish.

So, there I was at Esmont Elementary School, speaking very broken English, and not able to read or write in English so, again, was labeled as “slow learner”.  

After several months  my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Stargell, must have spoken with another teacher, Mrs. Boggs, whose husband was also a teacher at Esmont Elementary and was the principal.  They did not believe I was retarded or was a slow learner.   My cognitive skills seemed to be good,  my motor skills were lacking, and I could not speak English very well.  Therefore, they suggested to my parents  they hire a personal tutor to work with me each school day, particularly teaching me to speak and read English along with the schoolwork.  And they recommended the perfect person for the job!

Her name was Edith Heath, a very intelligent woman, was married to L Heath, who delivered the rural mail, they lived at Shelbyside  Farm in Esmont. Because she was a great believer in the community and in Esmont School, Mrs. Heath drove a  school bus bringing kids to Esmont Elementary, then she and I would go to a sunlight room in the school basement and work all day.  I was able to play with all the other kids during recess times.  This wonderful lady taught me English and all the other subjects for grades one through seven.   And I flourished!  After Esmont Elementary, and high school, I went to college at UVA.  Eventually I received two master’s degrees, wrote a book about children with special needs, got married and gave birth to three healthy children, and taught for 42 years in both City and County School systems.  

I often refer to Mrs. Heath as the person who saved my life!  I am so thankful the teachers at Esmont Elementary could tell the difference between someone who had diminished motor skills from someone who was retarded! 

It still amazes me that the little Village of Esmont had such great teachers in that four-room school with seven grades and four teachers, which still exists today as a duplex on Esmont Road. 

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Note 1:  There is another “Memory” write up in this collection written by Richard Heath entitled “Raised in Esmont.”  Dr. Heath was the son of Edith Heath.

Note 2: From Shay Heath Booth, a Friend of Esmont and niece of Edith Heath:

 Aunt Edith established a bond with Adelaide that lasted forever, she was very proud of Adelaide and her success in life! Adelaide held a special place in the Heath family!  


ESMONT Memories continued