Written by Megan Juba
“Two students were bickering with one another, two boys. They were going back and forth angry at another… I was trying to write on the blackboard; we had blackboards at that time,” Ed chuckles, pauses and blows a breath from deep in his chest before going on. “And suddenly I heard this sound and I turned around and one of my students had been stabbed across his chest, he was laying on his back. I had never seen anything like that. I grew up in innocent little Buena Vista, Colorado. He was almost mortally wounded. Kids were yelling. It was chaos. Blood was everywhere. And I didn’t know what to do,” he says all this and exhales entirely, shaking his head in disbelief. This happened over 50 years ago in Elk Mountain, Wyoming at the beginning of Edward Lambert’s life-long teaching career.
Ed came back to Chaffee County thinking he would make some good money working at Climax Molybdenum Mine in Leadville. He’d worked at Climax before teaching and in coal mines during the summers, but his dad (also named Edward Lambert who was working in the mine as well) looked at him and said, “You’re a damn fool.” So, instead, he got a job teaching as an English teacher at Salida High School and worked there for 32 years. Most students that sat in his classroom recall how he was one of their favorite and most influential teachers. Ed is a monastic learner himself which is reflected in how he spends life’s time. Ed is dualistic and well-rounded, a man who does not believe in boredom. He is a deeply thinking philosopher and a chronic jokester, a classical guitarist, a woodworker, a biker, hiker and lover of the outdoors, a writer and reader, someone who seeks solitude but is a local legend around town (not many people don’t know Mr. Lambert!).
This trait is one reason he was so accomplished as an educator. He says humbly, “Teaching is not imparting knowledge, it's also learning. Half the time, I felt like I had them fooled. My students knew more than I did. I feel unworthy about it in so many ways because I learned so much…so much. It was a wonderful endeavor.”
Ed has been retired from teaching for over a decade now. He reminisces and admits, “I miss the kids and being around young people but I’m grateful that I’m no longer teaching because of all the additional complexities and troubles and hardships and challenges that are even more real than when I was there.”