A class act, Mrs. Pickett exemplified heart and professionalism
Who helped hundreds of students learn the intricacies of English grammar? Who encouraged reluctant adolescents to work harder? Who was well-groomed (wearing heels, no less), even when her day ended with bus duty? Who did the final proofreading on Georgetown ISD publications? Yes . . . Dell Pickett.
Mrs. Pickett served Georgetown students and colleagues for 25 years, teaching freshmen and eighth graders, mentoring younger teachers, and later leaving the classroom at a superintendent’s behest to evaluate her peers. In all roles, she garnered respect, guiding firmly but gently and setting clear expectations. I taught next door to her for four years; we shared stories and laughter, not to mention many students moving from seventh to eighth grade.
Mrs. Pickett was old school: She believed that her own work should be error-free if she wanted students to absorb good work habits. Discipline mattered to her, but so did heartfelt generosity and motivational techniques.
Gary Pickett, her son, recounted this story. Mrs. Pickett told one discouraged boy, shod in worn-out boots, that she knew he could pass, and if he did, she would buy him a new pair of boots from Gold’s Department Store. He improved his English skills to earn a B. Whether he was prouder of the grade or his new boots proved a toss-up. Her daughter, Kathy Pickett Haws, remembers Mrs. Pickett ordering a bakery birthday cake for a girl who’d never had one, thinking that the class would share the feast. The girl, so proud of her gift, carried the confection home uncut, closely followed by still-hungry classmates.
Mrs. Pickett understood young teens. Kids loved sliding down the fire escape from her second-story room (at old GHS/junior high, now Williams Elementary) on the last day of school. Boys often asked how fast her 1971 Porsche914 could go. Her straight-faced reply: “Well, I know it will do at least 45.” Their expressions: priceless!
For one ninth-grade writing project, she asked students to interpret the message of songs from various genres. Gary Pickett transcribed lyrics, line by line, and Mrs. Pickett chose several songs that met her standards. One slipped by, however. “Luckenbach, Texas” opens with “The only two things in life that make it worth livin’ / is guitars that tune good and firm feelin’ women.” Some interpretations weren’t the least bashful. Mrs. Pickett deleted that choice in subsequent years, but I bet she had some good laughs grading those papers.
Pickett Elementary opened in 1993 to honor a dedicated teacher. Dell Pickett passed away in the spring of 1994.