Spanish teacher influenced by childhood farm life

Sam Brennan, Ads Manager

Feeding cows, helping them give birth, pulling stickers from their eyes.

Spanish teacher Anita Lemons spent the first 17 years of her life helping out around her family’s farm and cattle ranch.

“I had no brothers, so I was like a surrogate son for my father,” she said.

She said growing up on a farm taught her responsibility.

“Everyone had a job,” Lemons said. “I came home from school and helped my father with the cattle.”

Working with animals led Lemons to care about them greatly.

“I loved horses, they were my best friends,” she said. “Once my neighbor’s horse ran through the barbed wire and walked to our stable; I was there to call the vet. I always wanted to save them. I feel real compassion for animals.”

Lemons attended the University of Nebraska with the intention of becoming a veterinarian.

“I wanted to become a vet all through high school,” Lemons said. “Women were rare in veterinary school. There were a couple, but it was nearly impossible to get in.”

During the time Lemons went to school, women weren’t given the same opportunities as men.

“When I grew up it was much more of a man’s world for certain professions,” she said. “It has totally changed for the good.”

Lemons said she went for her second choice of studying languages, so she didn’t waste money on college.

She worked during the summer at a park as a secretary to support herself in college. She helped haying around the farm.

“I also showed 4-H calves,” Lemons said. “I saved the money I earned in a savings account.”

Lemons eventually decided to major in Spanish and English.

After receiving her degree, she applied for a teaching job in Lincoln, Neb.

“I wanted to get a job in Lincoln — that was near impossible,” she said. “Most of my friends went to Omaha, but I applied and got the job.”

Lemons said Lincoln was a very competitive area to get a job because many young professionals wanted to continue their education while working.

“They made it apparent that if you didn’t meet expectations during the first year working, you wouldn’t be there next year,” Lemons said.

Lemons said teaching in Lincoln was rewarding.

“The school was connected to the University of Nebraska and had a lot of resources,” she said. “Students were highly motivated and really successful.”

Lemons left her job in Lincoln and traveled with her husband who was in the Air Force. Finally, settling in Kansas City, Lemons has worked at BVHS for 22 years.

Senior Ryan Jaspal, currently enrolled in AP Spanish 5, said he enjoys how Lemons incorporates her personality into her teaching.

“She knows what she is doing,” Jaspal said. “She is determined to help us be successful.”

Jaspal said he took Spanish to broaden his speaking abilities, and Lemons has helped him a lot.

“She made me work harder and pushed me so I do more work,” he said.