This is National Teacher Appreciation Week. With schools closed across the country, this time to honor our educators may go overlooked by many. But, now more than ever parents should recognize the valuable service teachers provide. Dedicated teachers not only can but do change lives. They can spark an interest or passion for a subject in a student that will live with them forever, and perhaps set the course of their entire life. Teachers never know what their students will do in life. They could be teaching future medical researchers, military generals, CEO’s, or Presidents. Because of this, a teacher can literally change the world. We should hope for and appreciate the good ones.

Most BCHS students from the ’70’s through the ’90’s probably remember Ms. Owings’ bug collection – both as her wall decor and an assignment in her class.

Yesterday our community laid to rest one of our good ones, Judy Owings Calderwood. A biology teacher at Bibb County High School for 30 years (from 1969 to 1999), Miss Owings impacted hundreds if not thousands of lives and minds. I remember taking her Biology II class in 10th grade. It was evident how much she loved what she did. She loved sharing knowledge of science and her curiosity of the natural world with her students. She loved sharing ideas and seeing a spark in a student’s eye. She was always teaching. Even last year when my children had opportunity to meet her 20 years after she had retired as a teacher, she was teaching them about the bugs living by the driveway before I realized it.

She was a true world traveler – always curious, always exploring, always learning, whether about the creatures in the Cahaba River or the cultures she visited all around the globe. She brought these experiences to her classroom and friends outside of school as well. She encouraged curiosity and exploration in everyone she met. She lived an amazing life and encouraged her students to reach for their dreams and follow their curiosities. Who knows how many lives she affected that in turn had a positive effect on the world?

“She inspired so many students as well as her peers with her thoughtful instruction and caring ways. I sang in the church choir with her for years, too. She was always so much fun and had a great voice.” — Mike Oakley, Bibb County Board of Education President,

“I thought she was a great biology teacher and person. I was in her class in 1975. In fact, her inspiration got me to get my B.S. degree and Master’s degree in Biological Science.” — Terry Morton, Mayor of Centreville and former teacher at BCHS

“Judy Owings was passionate about science and loved to share that appreciation and wonderment with her students. There are generations of BCHS graduates that vividly and fondly recall the dissections and experiments and projects – and bug collections – that were a staple of her gift of empirical learning. I am most fortunate to be one of several former students to also call her a teaching colleague, and she taught and lectured well after her retirement as a teacher, sharing her collections and experiences and knowledge at recent FAWN/Earth Day events with many elementary students who were the very children and grandchildren of her former students. She will be remembered as one of the best teachers to ever serve on the faculty at Bibb County High School.” — Duane McGee, Superintendent of Bibb County Schools

Thank you, Miss Judy.

To view her official obituary, click here.

Many thanks to Superintendent Duane McGee for finding the yearbooks and providing the photos you see here:


SOURCEThe Bibb Voice
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A father, creative professional, and an alumnus of Bibb County High School, Jeremy has found his way back to Centreville after many years away. He studied Finance and Economics at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and almost a decade ago left the "normal" business world for audio and video production. A freelance writer, photographer, sound engineer, and film and video producer/director/editor, his work has appeared online for Southern Living, People, Health, Food & Wine, Sports Illustrated, Cooking Light, It's a Southern Thing, and This Is Alabama, as well as for independent musicians and filmmakers across Alabama.


  1. Well done, Jeremy! I am glad I was able to help you with this article. Finding the pictures provided a walk down memory lane for me as both a student and a teacher at BCHS. Mrs. Owings was a wonderful teacher and advocate for teaching about and experiencing nature.

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