SCOTTSBORO, Ala. - Most people hope that when they leave this earth, in some small way, they've made a difference. We found a Scottsboro woman who has been doing that for longer than many of us have been alive.
Velma Sebring loves to teach. And she’s been at it a while. “I started when I was 17,” she said. That was 80 years ago. “I think a hundred,” she said laughing. Velma’s 97.
She first taught a Sunday school class at Randall’s Chapel United Methodist Church. She remembers it like it was yesterday saying, “We sat out there on a log and I had 10 girls.” A few years later, she married and moved to the Baptist church. “When I learned better,” she said with a chuckle.
Velma’s been teaching Sunday school at Center Point Baptist for 75 years now. And she has no idea how many students she’s had. “There’s not any telling,” she added. She’s lost count. “I see people coming up to me at church now, little kids and they say, you taught my daddy in Sunday school,” Velma said.
She now teaches a class called “The Last Stop.” I asked her if she has any plans to retire from teaching Sunday school. She looked toward the heavens and back at me and said, “When I die. I think that’s it, when I die.”
Right now, she’s too busy working on her next lesson. Sitting at her kitchen table thumbing through her bible, Velma said, “From Sunday night to the next Sunday morning. You study early Monday and Tuesday. And somebody said well you get it all prepared Monday and Tuesday. I said have you ever tried to do that and still hold it until next Sunday? No. there`s too much stuff happening in the world.”
Last summer, Velma was honored for her faithful service by her church, Governor Kay Ivey, Congressman Mo Brooks and Senator Richard Shelby. “I never dreamed anything like this would be in my life,” she said. “I never dreamed it.”
In fact, she was a little embarrassed about all the attention. “I think so,” Velma said. “I don’t like it if they ask you to stand up in church or something to recognize you for something, I don’t like it.” Perhaps because she’s a very humble woman.
Velma has a gift though. “I think the biggest thing in my life that touches me more than anything is when you can help other people,” she said. Praise the Lord. “Always do what’s right,” she added.
Velma was the oldest of 7 children. So she learned early how to take care of others and be a teacher. And she graduated twice from Samford University’s extension program so she'd be certified to teach.