|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Sunday, 26 February 2012 00:00|
When Rachel Ayars first came to Arizona, it was under protest.
“I kicked and screamed,” Ayars said.
It was unfamiliar territory for the Midwesterner, and she wasn’t exactly relishing the prospect of attending high school in Prescott.
The move was an attempt by Ayars’ father to take advantage of Arizona’s climate for health reasons.
It didn’t really work, unfortunately, but the move did establish some roots for Ayars in the Grand Canyon State.
Ayars happened to be classmates with a guy name Rick. Years later, the two ended up married.
“I thought, ‘Hey, this just might work out good,’” Ayars said.
Today, Ayars calls Lake Montezuma home when she’s not in Colorado Springs, Colo., a town she ended up in for more than three decades.
Her ex-husband was in the U.S. Air Force, the reason she spent so much time in that military town, home to the Air Force Academy and NORAD, among other things.
Ayars actually spent a lot more time in high school than she originally planned.
When she first graduated and attended the University of Missouri, Ayars was initially interested in the field of psychology.
It was also a requirement that students take a foreign language course.
Ayars chose to study German.
Initially, Ayars chose the German language in part because of its connection to psychology through the works of the Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.
“It turns out that I was much better at German than I was at psychology,” Ayars said.
She was so good at it, in fact, that it turned into a career.
For decades, Ayars taught German to teenagers at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs.
“I absolutely loved it,” Ayars said.
With a maiden name of Schlotzhauer, Ayars said she knew her family had something of a German background, and teaching the language helped her explore that aspect.
She remembers visiting the small town in Germany where the name is still prevalent.
“All the businesses,” Ayars said, “it said Scholtzhauer on everything.”
In 1993, Ayers was honored with a top teaching award by Walt Disney Company, which flew her to Orlando, Fla., for a special ceremony.
Ayars was also honored with the Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, Outstanding German Teacher in Colorado and a two-week tour of Germany by the German government.
She implemented new methods of teaching German in her school district, and she helped organize the town’s annual German language festival.
Eventually, she married that old classmate of hers, Rick Ayars, who served as the director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
These days, Ayars said she’s just enjoying staying active in retirement and in Arizona.
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