Bonneville’s “grandma” substitute receives the “Super Sub Award”

Thursday , April 16, 2015 - 8:23 AM

By CALEB LARKIN
Stanard-Examiner correspondent

OGDEN – After 46 years working as a substitute teacher at Bonneville High School, Barbara Bingham, age 84, retired Monday, April 6.

Nancy Peebles, a history teacher at Bonneville, said, “I went to our principal with the idea (of honoring Bingham with an award). She’s been a sub for 46 years and I thought we should honor her.”

Bingham began teaching in 1969 when her oldest son attended Bonneville as a senior. She hasn’t stopped since.

“My life, next to my own family, has been centered around Bonneville High school,” Bingham said.

Weber School District awarded Bingham with the “Super Sub Award” on Wednesday and hundreds of students, family, and friends came to support her.

“I don't care if they're black, white, pink, or purple, I love them all,” said Bingham during the award presentation speaking of the students.

Students have long recognized her with the title of “Grandma.”

Tenniel Smith, Bingham’s actual granddaughter, remembers calling her grandma while attending Bonneville High.

“Some student came up to me and said that was rude (calling her grandma) just because she is old,” Smith said

Bingham responded by saying, “Grandma is the nicest name I’ve ever had.”

The name stuck and now hundreds of students constantly greet her with a “Hi Grandma!”

Bingham has even had students ask her to prom. “They’re just kidding of course,” Bingham said.

The one time she had a problem with a student, another student intervened and said, “Don’t you dare talk to Grandma like that!”

Bonneville’s principal, John Pymm, wrote a letter of recommendation for Bingham to receive the award. He wrote, “She is always available when there is a need at Bonneville … I have personally observed her in P.E. and was blown away at her ability to manage the class so well.”

She is involved with Bonneville so much she even has her own parking space. “Well, I didn’t know it was mine, it’s just always there and I park in it,” Bingham responded.

Russ Porter, a health teacher at Bonneville for 16 years, said, “She was my ‘go to’ sub, the first one I would ask then I would work my way down through her daughters to see if they were available.”

All three of Bingham’s daughters followed her example and work as substitutes, two at Bonneville High School as well. Her daughters talk about how the students behaved so well after they found out Bingham was their mother.

Debbie Cherry, one of Bingham’s daughter, said, “She wasn't just a sub, she went to all of the athletic games. She is so supportive of Bonneville.”

Students and teachers know Bingham for her active participation in the sporting events as well. “When I go to games and the coaches do something I don’t like they don’t have to worry about me writing a letter, because I go right down there and tap them on the shoulder and tell them, ‘You better behave!’” Bingham said.

Bingham’s husband, Dee Bingham, passed away in August 2012. “The hardest thing I went through after Dee was gone was going to that first football game alone,” said Bingham. “The homecoming queen must have noticed because she came over and gave me a rose from her bouquet.”

She retired after doctors diagnosed her with pancreatic cancer in March and told her she had three to six months to live. “It took me two days after being there (subbing) to recover. As much as I love being there, it's just not worth it,” Bingham said.

After the diagnosis, Bingham recalls feeling relieved.

“Honestly the first thing I thought was, ‘Hooray, I’m going to be with dad before too long,’” she said.

Her children attribute her positive attitude toward the diagnosis as finally feeling a relief to know what was causing the pain.

“We’re going to miss her but we understand. It’s going to be a real loss to the school,” Porter said.

Bingham still attends all the Bonneville athletic events, even after her retirement.

“People are always asking me why an old person like me wants to be over there with all those spoiled teenagers. And I just answer because I love them. And I do,” Bingham said.

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