By Thomas Sellers Jr.
November 25 was cold and lifeless.
The sky gray and the trees getting more and more bear with each wind gust. The scene was covered in rain. The gloom was for a reason.
Millington Central High School and Flag City lost one of its most colorful, inspiring and beautiful personalities in Amy Lange.
Along side her estrange husband Mark Perry, Lange was found shot in her home on Oakhurst Avenue. The news shocked her MCHS colleagues, students and friends.
Once her identity was confirmed, the public started hearing things about the life of Lange. She was 2012-13 Shelby County Teacher of the Year, member of the Millington Art Council and dedicated instructor of standout art students like ST Davis, Amy Baltensperger, Bronson Perry and so many more for nearly a decade at Millington Central.
But for those who spent time with Lange, we know she’s more than an award or image captured on a canvas or on film; Lange was a mark on your soul.
With her humble voice and easy-going style, Lange brought the best out of her students because she had a passion and genuine love for art. Whether it was photography, oil paints or with a pencil, Lange challenged her students’ creative side.
A visit to her classroom was a display in world-class art. You could find eye-pleasing images in books, in frames or standing on her desk.
Her children ran to her room to continue work on those projects or would stay late to make sure they got to a good stopping point.
The love for art transformed into a love for the students for their instructor. And Lange gave all her heart to those children.
From Goat Days to the opening day of the Millington Farmer’s Market, Lange was right by her students’ side promoting their work, upcoming events and art exhibits.
The greatness of her pupils would be seen across the country from the Mid-South to New York City.
Lange started an annual silent auction for her students to raise money for the endeavors to showcase their work and get them to college.
Getting scholarships for her students was a top priority for Lange. With pride she hosted signing ceremonies for her children when they reached that goal.
If there was something to enrich her students or make them better at art or photography, Lange was all for it, even if that meant enlisting the help of Thomas Sellers Jr. of The Millington Star.
It was about 5 years ago Lange introduced herself to me and talked about her Media Class. She told me how she admired my sports photography. Her kind words humbled me and made me want to come talk to her class.
That started a partnership that continues today. At Trojan Football games, her students will walk up to me and say, ‘Hey you’re Thomas Sellers. Ms. Lange told me to follow you. Do whatever you do. And listen to you.’
I remember thinking, Ms. Lange must actually mention me during her lessons in the classroom. She has used my clippings to illustrate sports photography. The advice I gave in her classroom years ago, she taught her students.
Wow, I played a small part in helping an amazing teacher like Ms. Lange. The feeling that she gave to so many students, she also gave a man like me.
Lange gave me a sense of importance. She made me feel smart, creative and good at what I do. She made me feel relevant and like my work was good enough to be appreciated by many for years to come.
Ms. Lange had a gift, an eye for talent. And once she spotted that ability, she carved it into a fine sculpture.
Lange building wonderful artist was like her transforming a blank canvas into a masterpiece. Her strokes to creating an accomplished art student were encouragement, instructions, honest critic and most importantly time.
So Lange lives on through her own work and the images her students have created and will create. And when they pass on their love of art, Lange’s colorfulness will shine once again.
I am forever blessed having a chance to watch Lange work, feature her in articles and strengthen my love for art through her students.
And every time I head to my refrigerator to grab a snack I will think of Ms. Lange. I have two magnets, one of ST Davis’ real life alphabets and the blue face of Amy Baltensperger.
Those two images were motivated and driven by Lange. And when I look at those, they make me happy and challenge me to think outside of my normal perimeters.
It will take those who knew and loved Amy Lange to see color in our lives again. But we all know we must return to seeing life as a beautiful portrait because that’s a part of her legacy.