By JUDY SHERARD
RUSSELL -- Mrs. A loves children.
Nancy Aspergen, known as Mrs. A "because Aspergen is hard to pronounce sometimes," has been a teacher for more than 40 years -- first with her own classroom and later as a substitute.
"When I graduated in 1971," Aspergen said, "it really wasn't a degree. Special education was such a brand new field that they weren't too sure where to put me."
She started the Russell special education program "for children with moderate to severe disabilities."
"That was my life for 35 years until my doctor made me retire," she said.
Now she substitutes in the Russell, Victoria and Hays school districts. She's in the classroom without having to make the lesson plans and fill out paperwork.
Though she grew up in the East Coast area, Russell has been home for 45 years. The only time she spent away from there was a few months in Florida with her mother, when her mother was in hospice care.
Even when she's not in a classroom, Aspergen is involved with children's activities. She was a Girl Scout leader for approximately 15 years and was leader of the 4-H countywide dog project for 30 years, still serving as a consultant. Aspergen also volunteers at least one day a week at Sternberg Museum of Natural History in the Discovery Room encouraging children's curiosity.
That's in addition to being a coach for the Russell Special Olympics team, which she started approximately 40 years ago.
"Everything I get into, I'm in it for the duration," Aspergen said.
She's known by local children as a hugger, So recently in a local store, a little girl ran up to give her a hug.
"This is Mrs. A, and you'll see her, I know," the little girl told her younger brother as he too got a hug.