FRANKFORT — There aren’t many teachers who’ve had a more varied education career or affected more lives than Golda Walbert, 89, a Rockcastle County native who taught in one-room and settlement schools in eastern Kentucky before moving to Barren County in 1956.
Her influence was evident Thursday as her step-son, Tom Walbert, pushed her wheel chair into the Kentucky State Capitol Rotunda where Walbert was recognized for her induction into the Louie B. Nunn Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame.
Before they could get inside the oval room dominated by the statue of Republican Abraham Lincoln, Walbert was met by lawmakers, former students, friends and admirers.One was Paris Hopkins of Frankfort who was a student of Walbert’s at Dixietown Elementary in Harlan County in the mid-1950s.
She was Miss Pensol then, and she was the head teacher,” Hopkins said. “We called her Miss Goldie. It was a term of affection, but we didn’t call her that to her face. Let’s just say discipline was never a problem in her classroom, okay?”
Another was Frankfort attorney and Glasgow native Prentice Harvey, whose father Dr. Daryl P. Harvey preceded Walbert as chair of the Barren County Republican Party and who worked closely with Walbert and Louie Nunn on Republican politics.
"My Dad used to say they’d ‘cuss and discuss Barren County politics’ for hours at a time,” Harvey recalled. “She was a long-time friend of his and a staunch political ally.”
Walbert began teaching at Sand School in Rockcastle County in 1943, making $60 a month. She would go on to teach in Harlan County before moving to Barren County in 1956 where she married Earl Walbert and became a force for education and the local Republican Party.
Earl Walbert was a Democrat.
"I told him I’d never ask him to vote Republican and he mustn’t ever ask me to vote Democrat,” she said. “It was never a problem.”