A teacher has one of the hardest jobs in one of the hardest fields. Teachers shape the minds of the youngest citizens; they can push future doctors, lawyers, artists and even future teachers to do and be the best people they can be.
It’s not always easy. A teacher deals with everything the child is dealing with, on top of dealing with administration, legislators, long hours and low pay.
The Carroll County Development Association wanted to show all the teachers in Carroll County that they are appreciated, and it held its 13th annual Teachers Appreciation Dinner Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Vaiden High School Gymnasium. The speaker for the event was Dr. Katrina Poe Johnson, a physician at the Student Health Center on the campus of Mississippi State University.
Poe worked as a doctor in her hometown of Kilmichael for 17 years before accepting the position at Mississippi State. Poe Johnson told the story of how teachers shaped her life.
“When I first went to Headstart, I didn’t want to go to school,” she said. She said when the bus arrived at her house, her mom Bessie and the bus driver had to catch her because she would run. However, as she started “big school” she liked it.
She said before the start of every school year, her parents gave her “the talk.”
“They would tell us, ‘You know how to act. Don’t get down to that school acting up. I don’t want to have to leave work to come to see about you,’” Poe Johnson said.
Poe Johnson told of how her bus driver would allow her sit on a platform on the bus and let her pull out the stop button.
“When I was in the first grade, my teacher, Mrs. Emma Jean Applewhite-Magee, asked me ‘You’re not going to be like your sister Cheryl are you?’ Cheryl was 18 months older than me and ahead of me in school. She would call my momma and say “I don’t know what’s going on at home, but your daughter comes to school singing ‘I Found My Thrill,’ that’s how it was. She would call our parents and ask if something was going on.”
She said that she wanted to please her teachers, but she loved to talk.
“I was a talker; it was learning how not to get caught.”
Poe Johnson remembered other teachers like Mrs. Gladys Harrington and Mrs. Delores Trotter, who Poe Johnson said wouldn’t say a word but snap and point.
“And you knew what she meant,” she said.
Poe Johnson said it was her fifth-grade teacher, Ernestine Murph, who first asked her what she wanted to do in life.
“Most kids would say policeman, fireman and those are noble positions, but I had never thought about it,” she said.
She said her teacher told her that she was caring and saw how she attended to her classmate’s needs when they were upset. “She told me, ‘Maybe you should consider medicine.’ She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
Poe Johnson said although her parents pushed her to be great, her teachers played a role in her life also. “The first piano recital I saw was with Mrs. Mary Thigpen. Mrs. Mary Thigpen taught me how to crochet, and I was able to crochet ribbons for my family members for Christmas. The first movie I ever saw in the theatre was with Mrs. Olean Boggan and Mrs. Betty Herring, and it was “The Color Purple.”
She said it was her English teacher Harold Richardson who taught her poetry, and she recited “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
“Two roads diverged in a wood and me, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
“He made us recite that poem, and if we were wrong, he would say ‘No, no, no baby, that’s not right, do it again.’ He taught me discipline. He wanted us to do it correctly; he wanted it to be right,” Poe Johnson said. She graduated at the top of her class from Kilmichael High School, and she said Mr. Richardson helped her with her valedictory speech.
She said when she graduated from medical school, there was a reception held in her honor, and she recognized every teacher that shaped her life. She said before she went into medical school, she took a small break because her mom got sick, and she taught at Montgomery County High for a little bit.
“And I don’t ever want to do it again,” she said.
The CCDA also honored Barbara Miller as Teacher of the year for Marshall Elementary, Nick Mumme for Carroll Academy and Sharon Kinnel and Joe Nokes as Teachers of the Year for J.Z. George High School.