Roberta Lynn Alligood wasn't a mother, but friends and family say she had hundreds of children.
The 52-year-old educator and 1998 East Augusta Middle School Teacher of the Year died Thursday, only months after retiring after 25 years at the school.
"She could have been the only mother some of these children knew," said Bonnie Muclay, who taught with her at East Augusta. "She became involved in their lives beyond the classroom."
Mrs. Alligood always held her pupils to the highest standards and expectations, Ms. Muclay said. Even if they misbehaved and were sent to in-school suspension, she would check on them to ensure they had everything they needed, Ms. Muclay said.
Mrs. Alligood could have retired earlier, but she insisted on teaching and staying involved in the lives of her pupils, Ms. Muclay said.
She considered teaching special education to be her calling, her husband, Larry Alligood, said Saturday.
At times she would come home and express frustrations, he said. But if he suggested switching to another school, she would reiterate her dedication to the school and love of the children.
It was the children for whom she worked, Mr. Alligood said. She would work all day at school and then into the night on the paperwork that comes with teaching special education. She would even visit the families of her pupils in neighborhoods where such visits were rare.
"Kids would start out hating her, but before the end of the year they would respect her," Mr. Alligood said.
At home, she was known as the "neighborhood watch dog," always looking out for everyone and quick to respond if anyone needed any help, he said.
"She's a person that never met a stranger," Mr. Alligood said. "Every person that met her always liked her."
Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.