If you went to Edison Elementary School in the '70s, '80s or early '90s, there's a good chance you got to sit in Trilby Porter's kindergarten class.
The longtime Edison teacher was known for the holiday program she wrote and produced every year, and her ability to make her students and parents feel like extended family.
“I think she was a very dedicated and loving teacher,” said Geri Kucera, a parent of three students taught by Porter. “And very caring.”
Porter was like an icon of the school, Kucera said, and when Porter retired in 1995, Edison honored her with a tree that was intended to grow and stand as a lasting gift to her memory.
Unfortunately, the first tree was destroyed with the addition of mobile units, and a year later a replacement tree also died.
So, despite the passage of 17 years — as the saying goes — if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Kucera was reminded of the missing tree a couple years ago when Porter went for a walk with her grandchildren and was disappointed that her retirement gift had been destroyed years before.
Last week, Kucera and several other parents who became friends of Porter’s over the years surprised her with a brand-new gingko tree planted on the east side of the school in her honor.
Porter's friends got her to the site with a small fib to not ruin the surprise, where they unveiled the young tree and a commemorative plaque.
"We have children among us who are running for mayor, who are doctors, who are policeman, who are educators … imagine the other 750 (former students) and where they are and what they've accomplished with your love and dedication," Kucera said.
Pauline Hamalis' daughter and son were taught by Porter in 1973, and 1975.
"Every child was special to her," Hamalis said. "And she was very creative with the way that she taught. She made every child feel like they had a lot of self worth."
Porter said teaching never felt like a job to her.
"All of my really good friends are mothers of children I had at the school," she said. "My family would always come first, but my career came right after that."