Tracy K. Herrold
January 27, 1956-April 30, 2013

Stayton Elementary School teacher Tracy Kay Herrold, 57, died April 30, 2013, at her home in Stayton.

Tracy was born January 27, 1956, in Salem, Oregon, to Orville and Edna Herrold.

A life-long resident of the Stayton area, Tracy attended Stayton Elementary School and graduated from Stayton High School in 1974.  She received a BS in Elementary Education from Southern Oregon College in 1979, and began a long and successful teaching career at Mehama School, a rustic two-room schoolhouse in Mehama, Oregon.  When the school closed in 1986, she began teaching at Stayton Elementary School as a first-grade teacher, where she remained on staff until her death.

“Tracy was incredibly compassionate and committed to children,” said Anette Carroll, principal at Stayton Elementary.  “She cared equally about their minds and their hearts - her empathy and protectiveness of all children never wavered, no matter what they were going through or how they acted.   Tracy just knew they needed to be encouraged and loved - she made them believe in themselves.”  Described as an exceptionally skilled educator by her colleagues, Tracy was selected Teacher of the Year at Stayton Elementary more than once.

Ms. Herrold's classroom was notorious as a study in controlled chaos.  She and her students were jam-packed into a tangle of easels and books, turtles and birds - and student creations everywhere.  It was a comfortable place for children to learn, and she made it a safe haven where they were free to be themselves.  Alongside the required reading and writing curricula, Tracy taught her young apprentices courtesy, integrity and respect for others.  Sue Giles was Tracy’s longtime assistant:  “At the beginning of each year, Tracy would turn a classroom of young strangers into one big caring, loving family where all kids felt valued and secure. She emphasized honesty by simply looking into a student’s eyes so intently that any small fib would instantly melt away!”

Though hampered by health issues in the final years of her life, Tracy continued to lead her students from a wheelchair and crutches.  “Tracy shared her own challenges with her children and taught them that they could overcome anything,” said Carroll.

Tracy loved to travel, raise organic vegetables and fruits, and create unique raku pottery.  She played the dulcimer and had a great love of acoustic folk music.  She loved all animals, especially cats.

Preceded in death by her mother and father, and sister Judy Hanson, Tracy is survived by her sister Joan Herrold, nieces Amber Hanson (husband John Razor) and Alex Boring, and grand-niece Corina Boring.  Tracy also leaves a much larger family behind - in the hundreds of students she taught, some of whom went on to become educators because of the very teacher who met them at the classroom door their first year.  “Tracy didn't try to be the best in the world, instead she was the best for the world,” said Carroll.  “Her legacy will live on through the generations of students who were so fortunate to have her as a teacher.”

A Celebration of Life was held May 17, 2013, from 3-5 p.m. at the E.G. Siegmund Meeting Room of the Stayton Public Library, 515 North First Avenue in Stayton.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Stayton Elementary School Children’s Fund in memory of Tracy Herrold, 875 North Third Avenue, Stayton, OR  97383.  Cards and condolences can be sent to Virgil T. Golden Funeral Home, 605 SE Commercial Street, Salem, OR  97301.

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