Teacher has "Biggest Heart in Hagerstown"

February 13, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Nancy Bushey's students think their teacher has the biggest heart in Hagerstown, and thanks to Prime Outlets, she now has a shopping bag to match.

The Smithsburg High School teacher won a bag full of goodies from the outlet center off Sharpsburg Pike for winning the "Who Has the Biggest Heart in Hagerstown" contest.

Prime Outlets received letters from children extolling parents who give them extra hugs and special meals. But the outlet mall's general manager, Alice Rosen, said the Bushey easily surpassed them all.

"Your letter transcended all the others," Rosen said to Smithsburg senior Jennie Fleagle, who wrote the letter nominating Bushey for the award.


Fleagle, 18, said she stayed at school until 5:30 one afternoon writing the letter with fellow students Angie Wilson and Kristine Mann.

The letter painted the picture of a teacher who continually rises above and beyond the call of duty.

Bushey has opened her home to students with disruptive home lives and one time took a teenager to a clinic for children of alcoholic parents.

She has co-signed car loans for her students and one time paid $500 in legal fees for one of her students.

All this comes on top of teaching English and drama at Smithsburg for 24 years, producing 22 musicals and staying at school each afternoon long after classes have ended, Fleagle said.

"She's just done so much for so many people," she said.

Bushey received a tote bag filled with $350 of gift certificates and merchandise donated by stores in the outlet center.

Bushey's name was also entered in a contest with winners from Prime Outlets' other 50 centers around the country for a chance at the grand prize. That includes a five-day trip to Paris, a diamond necklace, a $1,000 wardrobe, a deluxe luggage set and a year's supply of gourmet chocolates.

"It feels incredible. It feels exciting," Bushey said. "It'll feel even better if I win the national prize."

Rosen said Prime decided to sponsor the "Big Heart" contest this year for the first time. The chain doubled in size last year with the acquisition of Horizon outlets. That gives the company outlet centers in 26 states, Rosen said.

Handing Bushey the bag of goodies, Rosen implored her to make good use of the certificates, "so you take them into the stores and shop your little heart out."

Bushey didn't seem to need much convincing.

"I might end up doing some Christmas shopping early," she said.

'A commitment'

Bushey said she has always been generous with her students because she feels teaching goes beyond instruction.

"I believe that teaching is a commitment," she said. "And the interesting thing is, I've never been taken."

Bushey, 59, said she is nearing retirement and will have much to reflect on.

"I'm never going to get rich, that's for sure," she said. "But how many people can retire and have that much effect on people's lives?"

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