By: Dr. Jacquelyn Simmons
Scripture: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
In last week’s message, this child of God invited you to share my “trek” leading to becoming a columnist for the Monroe Free Press.
Evidently “daddy” felt it safe to return our family to Monroe Louisiana, our home. I was enrolled in Mt. Nebo Elementary School located on Jackson Street. My teacher, who also served as my principal, was Mrs. Beckwith. My Aunt, Mrs. Eulah Hobson, was a teacher there and later became principal. The following year, our parents enrolled “Dena”, my sister and me, in Newtown Grammar School located on Texas Avenue where the United Theological Seminary is now. “Dena’s” first grade teacher was Mrs. Ethel White, the sister of Dr. M.H. Carroll, founder of Carroll High School. My mother’s oldest sister, Mrs. Eunice Nickerson, was a teacher at Newtown, also. My fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Henrietta Arrington who also taught 5th grade, served as principal, disciplinarian, substitute cook, janitress, you name it, simultaneously. In my opinion, Mrs. Arrington, along with many others helped to mold my academic skills. She was instrumental in guiding me along other lanes, also. I will never forget her. Mrs. Arrington attended Tuskegee Institute during the time Dr. George Washington Carver was in residence there. She described him as a very shy, withdrawn man who never seemed to initiate conversations with anyone.
Mrs. Arrington remained as my teacher until I graduated from the sixth grade. I don’t know how long she remained in the Monroe area after “daddy” permanently moved us to Denver. However, many years after I became a teacher in the Monroe City School System, God blessed me to see her again.
My first cousin, Gregory “Bubba” Hobson, first Principal of Berg Jones Elementary School here in Monroe, invited some of us to visit the school late one afternoon and to our surprise, his honored guest was Mrs. Arrington. He had invited as many of her former students as he could locate, including his sister, Mrs. Joyce Bassett, an instructor and eventually supervisor in the Monroe city School System, also.
Oh, we shed many tears of joy that day. It was one of the most exhilarating moments I’ve had in my life. To our surprise, she called many of us by name including mine. To me she had aged quite a bit from my early school-days’ memories. During those days, to my fourth-six grades years eyes, she was a somewhat “stocky” lady who meant what she said and said what she meant. The only time I can remember her being seriously challenged by us, was after she discovered the snake “Bubba” had placed in her desk drawer. However, no more snakes appeared in Mrs. Arrington’s desk drawer after her disciplinarian techniques were put into play. Well, my friends, “Bubba” informed us of Mrs. Arrington’s murder after her return to operate her small childrens’ dress shop located in the state of Ohio. I will always thank God for the influence she held on my life as well as the lives of others.
See you next week. Bring a handkerchief to wipe a new set of tears. God Bless! Don’t forget to pray!