Portsmouth elementary students surprise former teacher for her 102nd birthday

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A resident at Sentara Nursing Center celebrated a very special birthday.

Former Douglass Park Elementary teacher Augusta Baines turned 102 years old!

The celebration started Thursday afternoon, with students at Douglass Park Elementary singing happy birthday over a video call.

"It's a very easy event, because Mrs. Baines gives of herself. Because she is a mentor of mine, I wanted to replicate that by giving back as much as I could to her," said Deborah Freeman, a mentee of Baines.

Baines has worked in Portsmouth Public Schools for about 20 years. In addition to Douglass Park Elementary, she taught at Brighton Elementary and now-closed Port Norfolk and Academy Park elementary schools.

She retired decades ago, but stays busy as a volunteer for Sentara Nursing Centers throughout the region. She is a "Phone Pal," providing inspiration and cheer to residents in the long-term care facilities. She was recognized as the Virginia Healthcare Association's Adult Volunteer of the Year in 2017.

“Mrs. Baines shows us that good teachers never stop teaching important lessons,” said Chief of Schools Dr. Michael Cromartie. “By her personal example, she’s sharing lessons about life and about helping others.”

The celebration happened Thursday, even though her birthday is on March 15, because the City of Portsmouth declared March as Augusta Baines Month.

Happy birthday, Ms. Baines!