Pioneer teacher: Lucy May Beavis (1883-1951)

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Lucy May Beavis.

Lucy May Beavis initially spent several years in office work for the Church followed by 41 years as a Church school teacher, devoting decades typically in small one-teacher schools located in the back of Adventist churches as was common practice at that time.

She quietly and prayerfully won the hearts of her pupils and watched many of them go on to play significant roles in the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

She retired to her home town of Leamington in the Waikato region of North New Zealand and after her death, at the age of 68, was buried there.

While there are school records carrying Miss Beavis’s signature and the occasional class picture in which she was included, there is very little documentation of the life of this committed Church school teacher and it has not been possible to locate even a good quality individual picture of her.

But the contribution of Miss Beavis was typical of so many women who have given many years of faithful teaching service without complaint and who were evangelists in the truest sense of the word. 

" . . . the contribution of Miss Beavis was typical of so many women who have given many years of faithful teaching service without complaint and who were evangelists in the truest sense of the word."

Miss Beavis never held elected or senior office in the Church, nor was she ever perceived a leader. But like so many others she quietly lived out the gospel commission, and for this, and all the others like her, we need to both honour and remember that consistent and faithful life-long commitment.

Regardless of who their employer is, few primary or secondary teachers, anywhere, spend a full 40-year career in the education profession, and the very small minority who do, typically spend significant time outside the classroom and often retire from an educational leadership position or some support service such as curriculum development or student counselling.

To spend a full 41-year career entirely in primary classroom teaching, as did Miss Beavis, is an exceptional achievement, something which is quite rare. Not only did she achieve much in her ministry to her students, she also did it for far more years than most in the teaching ministry ever do; another good reason to honour her memory.

The marginal reading of the King James translation has, in Daniel 12:3, a very special blessing for Lucy May Beavis and all the other faithful servants of God just like her: “And as they that be teachers shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”


Dr Lester Devine is director emeritus of the Ellen G White/Adventist Research Centre.