OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Family, friends, students and staff members had nothing but smiles Thursday as they sat through the butterfly garden ceremony celebrating a Magnolia Park Elementary teacher, whose death impacted the community tremendously.
Patricia Hodges was an educator for more than 40 years, and she taught kindergarten for 26 years. Unfortunately, Hodges passed away from a stroke in 2020.
Before Hodges retired, each spring she would raise butterflies with her class and release them, and this year her tradition still lives on. Thursday is Hodges’ birthday and the school and family members thought it would be a great idea for each kindergarten class to release butterflies at the new garden.
Colleen Davis, Hodges’ daughter, said that it warms her heart that her mom’s memory will live on forever at a place that she loved the most.
“The fact that kindergarteners are still releasing butterflies after she left says a lot about the mark that she has left here,” said Davis. “She even has former students here as ambassadors for the ceremony. It’s such a beautiful day, I feel like her spirit is here with us.”
Davis said that she wants people to appreciate life when they look at the butterfly garden.
“People need to know that life can be changing, but there’s always hope,” said Davis. “I want people to just appreciate nature, appreciate the day, and appreciate the stuff that God gives us.”
Allison Block, the principal, said that she was honored to be able to work with such a passionate teacher.
“She was a game changer,” said Block. “She made kindergarten was an experience. She was always that teacher that wanted to love them, but made sure they got their hands dirty and that everything was always fun.”
Block explained that Hodges would put 100% amount of effort into her lesson, which makes her unforgettable.
“She is one of those teachers and I am certain that if you ask, ‘Who is one of your most memorable teachers,’ and they would say it was Mrs. Hodges. I think that students that had her would love to see this here. I’m sure they remember raising butterflies when they were in her classroom,” said Block
Block said that she isn’t surprised how the community came together to create the garden.
Block said that Ocean Springs Garden Club and Courtney Farms helped pick which plants were best to attract butterflies. Ocean Springs Lumber donated material for the boxes that holds the plants.
Tim’s Sprinkler System helped with the water portion.
“It says that Ocean Springs is just one of those places where people want to help. It’s just thinking about what we can do to help. We have so many talents in this area that we were able to embark on some of that,” said Block.
Magnolia Park Elementary said it has a replenish plan for its 3rd grade students to keep up the plants in the butterfly garden.