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Former Houston County student takes over her kindergarten teacher's class

Tonia McDermott is retiring from teaching kindergarten at Quail Run Elementary School after 31 years. Her former student Emily Bowlin will take her place.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Quail Run Elementary School staff members are showing their teachers appreciation with an awesome drive-thru party.

One of their students was so inspired by her kindergarten teacher that she's now taking her place after 31 years.

"I decided I wanted to become a teacher, because of all the teachers in Houston County, but mainly Mrs. McDermott. When I had her in kindergarten in 2003, she just blew my mind as a little five-year-old," Emily Bowlin said.

This picture of Bowlin with her kindergarten teacher Tonia McDermott was taken 17 years ago, but they remember it like it was yesterday.

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"She was just like all the rest of the sweet little five-year-olds. She was eager to please, sweet as she can be, always followed the rules. Always wanted to do the right thing and as cute as she could be too," McDermott said.

"When I look back at that picture I see someone that has been my mentor throughout my entire life," Bowlin said.

Bowlin went on to pursue a teaching degree and spent this last school year as student-teacher in McDermott's kindergarten class.

"She's great with the kids, but I knew she would be before she even got in the classroom, but she came in pre-planning and just worked with me all year," McDermott said.

"The student teaching experience with her has changed my life, and I will definitely use some of her ways in my classroom," Bowlin said.

That's now a reality for Bowlin, who will be taking over McDermott's class now that she's retiring after 31 years.

"I've definitely cried multiple times because of it, especially coming full circle... teaching kindergarten in the class I went to kindergarten in," Bowlin said.

"Makes me want to cry almost. It makes me really happy for her. It's just perfect, really the perfect situation. Even though the school year ended this way, it's the perfect situation," McDermott said.

"I love her so much, sorry. She's been such a blessing in my life, and I don't know what I would do without her. I probably would have never chose this degree if it wasn't for her," Bowlin said.

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Bowlin graduates from Middle Georgia State University this semester and will begin her teaching career here at Quail Run Elementary in the fall.

McDermott says she doesn't see herself staying away completely. She'd like to work part-time or come in as needed to help with students.

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