Hilda E. Taylor

As a teacher, Hilda E. Taylor shaped many lives:

Hilda E. Taylor, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, was a veteran teacher at Leckie Elementary School in Southwest Washington. She taught sixth grade and was on her way to California on a National Geographic field trip when the plane slammed into the Pentagon.

Taylor, who was born in Sierra Leone, lived with a grandson and two adult sons.

Taylor came to the United States many years ago in search of a better life for herself and her children.

Taylor’s sons said their mother, a seasoned traveler and an accomplished cook, savored life. She received a master’s degree from the University of the District of Columbia. She loved the classroom, her students and the thought that she was helping to develop young minds.

Sounds like she did:

TO THOSE WHO DID NOT KNOW MS.HILDA TAYLOR U MISSED OUT ON AN ANGEL.I ATTENDED LECKIE FOR 7 YEARS(79-86) K-6 MS.TAYLOR WAS MY SIXTH GRADE TEACHER AND SHE BELIEVED IN ME WHEN I DIDNT BELIEVE IN MYSELF.I NEVER FORGOT THAT AND EVERYTIME I WD FLY HOME TO D.C I MADE IT MY BUSINESS TO ALWAYS GO TO THE SCHOOL TO VISIT HER.IT STILLS BREAKS MY HEART TO THIS DAY AND I PRAY FOR HER FAMILY.SHE WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!

Ms. Taylor’s influence persisted, even after she passed:

Late teacher Hilda E. Taylor’s students gather after dinner for a moonlight hike through the forests of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

They were afraid to drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, but the vertigo and the panoramic view were what their teacher wanted them to experience.

They were afraid of the woods after dark, but their teacher wanted them to know what it was like to hike, without streetlights, without flashlights, using only their night vision and hearing.

They were afraid of baby striped bass, and traps for hairy crabs near the pier, and the weird, symphonic sound of crickets, but all of that — the new, the strange and the different — was exactly what Hilda E. Taylor wanted them to confront.

But Taylor, 62, was not there to reassure them. She and one of her sixth-graders, Bernard Brown, were heading to California on Sept. 11 to hike and kayak and study oceanic life when their hijacked airliner crashed into the Pentagon. Taylor, of Forestville, was doing for 11-year-old Bernard what she tried to do for all of her students: give them the world.

So at 11:15 a.m. Monday, in a grove of naked trees, next to a goat named Doby and a black sheep named Wilbur, 39 sixth-grade students from M.V. Leckie Elementary School in Southwest Washington tumbled off two chartered buses and into the woods of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. They had their doubts about three days of nature.

“It smells like cow manure and looks like ‘Blair Witch 2,’ ” pronounced Kaleema Wages.

That’s the nature of the world, isn’t it? Ms. Taylor was very wise.

She touched colleagues as well:

I was blessed to work with you on several occasions through our shared interests in education and geography. I will always remember your sense of humor often directed at me. Save a hula dance for me.

What better way to remember her than hula dancing to the great beyond?

Aloha oe, Hilda.

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