Columbia County's public schools re-open Tuesday, and I'm more excited than
I love these schools. Having grown up here, and with children of my own now
going through the system, I'm amazed at all the emotional connections I have
with individual schools. Sure, we hit bumps every now and then when a
student or staffer does something stupid. But anytime you're dealing with an
organization that has more than 20,000 people in it every day, we should be
surprised at how few problems there are.
Just think about it: If Columbia County schools were a city, it would
represent the 36th-largest town in Georgia.
Even so, it's still a small town. And come Tues-day hundreds of Columbia
County teachers will go back to work making thousands of kids smarter
students and better citizens.
My life certainly is better thanks to all my teachers. So it seems high time
that I finally got around to thanking them -- or at least those educators
who made enough of a lasting impression that I can remember their names
Here, then, is my personal teacher hall of fame:
Is there anyone who can't remember their first-grade teacher? I sure do. God
love her, Miss Margie is still around, and I swear she hasn't aged a day
since she taught me at little Appling Elementary School.
Miss Margie built my foundation in reading, writing and math. She also was
patient with me on some of the social graces that I lacked, for which I am
Sarah Ann Birdsong
Mrs. Birdsong just retired from teaching for the second time, having
returned to North Columbia for an encore. She taught me in second and third
grade at Appling Elementary (which closed years ago, all the kids moving to
Having Mrs. Birdsong for two years was a blessing. Like Miss Margie, she
made a real impression on the rough little kid in her back-to-back grades.
She hasn't gotten any older since then, either; I'm starting to wonder about
these Appling gals.
The reason I do what I do for a living is thanks in large part to Miss
Bennett. I once wrote a story for her fifth-grade English class, and she
thought so much of it that she read it to all her classes.
That little bit of encouragement lit a spark that has burned since then, and
I have Miss Bennett to thank for it.
She was really pretty, too.
Long before she became principal of Euchee Creek Elementary, Mrs. Golosky
was my senior English teacher at Harlem High School.
She also was the sponsor of the high-school newspaper, and as co-editor, I
got my first taste of the newspaper business. Though my major in college
bounced around a bit, I gravitated back to journalism in large part because
of the experience in Mrs. Golosky's class.
(And to her teachers at Euchee Creek: She was a really slack teacher, so
don't let her give you a hard time.)
Coach Roberson taught art at Harlem. I've always been a little artsy, and
even have a few pieces on display at Twisted Chicken Cafe. That spark was
ignited in Coach Roberson's freewheeling class.
A couple of years ago, he sent home via one of my daughters - he's now
taught two of them at Riverside Middle School - a framed linoleum print that
I'd done in his class at Harlem. He'll never know how flattered I was that
he'd kept it all those years.
Gosh, there are so many more. I can never thank them enough. But I can thank
them some; so to all my teachers - even the rare bad ones - thank you.
And to all those teachers getting ready for another year to start on
Tuesday, I hope you can light a spark in at least one kid who one day
remembers to thank you, too.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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