Thankful for inspiring teachers

Published 7:08 pm Thursday, August 2, 2018

It’s hard to believe school will start next week for students in Vicksburg.

Summer vacation seems to get shorter and shorter every year.

I can remember when the first day of school was right after Labor Day.

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Now these children are going back to school in August.

Nevertheless, like many other things, this too has changed.

One thing that has not changed however are teachers who inspire.

This week I had the privilege of interviewing two young teachers at Beechwood Elementary.

Both women were excited and enthusiastic about teaching and were looking forward to meeting their new students.

When I asked them why they had decided to become teachers, they both responded the same.

It was because of a teacher.

Although I did not go into the teaching field, I too can say I have been fortunate enough to have teachers that not only inspired, but also encouraged me during my formative years.

I will never forget my second grade teacher Mrs. Bridges.

She made me feel important. Toward the end of the school day when there was just a little time left before we all boarded the buses to go home, she would call me to the front of the class to read to the other students.

I’m not exactly sure why she chose me so often to do this, but it not only instilled in me a love of reading, it implanted a seed of self-confidence. I know many people who struggle with speaking in front of a crowd, but thanks to Mrs. Bridges, this has never been a stressor for me.

Miss Rickles was my sixth grade teacher at Jett Elementary School. I was a little girl who had a pretty severe overbite and when she told me I had a beautiful smile, my buckteeth did not seem like an issue.

While these elementary teachers loved on me and encouraged me, I also had high school teachers who left an indelible mark on my life.

John Waite was the band director at Warren Central when I was a student at the school, and he instilled in each one of us band members a sense of pride and excellence.

Doing something halfway was never acceptable. We would march in the pouring rain, as well as 100-degree heat and freezing cold, until we got our halftime shows perfect.

Of course, there was a lot of grumbling on the field when he would yell through his bullhorn, “Go back to your spots and let’s do it again.”

But I am now thankful. I learned how to persevere in the quest for excellence, even when I’m tired and ready to throw in the towel.

Bobby Odom is another high school teacher I was fortunate enough to have.

He was a tough grammar teacher, but so dedicated to his students.

I get to call him friend now that I am “grown-up” and when there is a party or get together we are both attending, I always enjoy the conversations we engage in.

A few weeks ago the WCHS graduating class of 1978 held a 40th reunion and, while it was fun seeing old friends, some of our teachers made the effort to attend. We were happy to see them again.

Both Waite and Odom were at the event, confirming in my mind teachers do way more than teach.

They mold and shape us, they encourage us and they challenge us to become the best we can be.

To all the teachers that taught me along the way and my children, I say thank you.

I am, who I am in part, because of you.

Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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