Our first vignette (about a blessing of joy) this week is about hometowns and the blessings they bring. Even though I wasn’t fortunate enough to be born in Summerville, today it is the town that I identify with as home; it has certainly given me my identity in life.
Psalm 16:11 (New Living Translation)
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
When I look back upon the “happenstance” leading up to my moving to Summerville, I realize that God’s Hand was involved from the very beginning.
Brooke and I had already decided that we wanted to continue rooming together and move to the Charleston area after graduation. Brooke first got a job teaching at Spann Elementary and soon after Gene Limehouse offered me a position teaching social studies at Alston Junior High School.
We moved into Georgetown Apartments in the West Ashley area of Charleston and with some other first year teachers made the trip from there to Summerville every day on the beautiful Scenic Highway (61)….what a charming drive during every season. I look back on those first years with fond memories.
Alston had just integrated the year before I arrived. Alston had once been the all-black high school and had undergone many physical/ cultural moves and changes when I arrived.
The history behind the school: The Alston Graded School opened in 1910. It was one of the first African American schools founded in Dorchester County. The school was named after Dr. J.H. Alston who donated the property on Cedar and 1st North Streets to build the school. The school housed grades 1-11 until 1949, when the 12th grade was added.
Alston High School was moved to Bryan Street in 1953. The school closed in 1970 after desegregation of county schools. Today Alston Middle School is located on Bryan Street.
The original school on Cedar St. and 1st North St. was demolished. The only known artifact that remains of the school is the cornerstone (currently at the Summerville-Dorchester Museum). (Source: Town of Summerville; Tiffany Norton)
Like my life….Alston Middle School and I have changed a lot over the years. Little did I know when I started teaching in 1972 that I would remain at Alston for 28 years until leaving to take a position at the district office working with the social studies program. Unbelievable!
*I was still Miss Barbour in this early photo with Cynthia Westbury. She and I headed up the Young Democrats Club at Alston…..these were fun days.
A year after this photo was taken I was married with three children to follow and Summerville became my home. It was and is the place that makes me happy; it makes me joyful. My children could not have gotten a better education anywhere else on God’s good earth. What a gift Summervlle has been to all of us.
Today I am so delighted that the new elementary school going in beside Alston
middle school is named for Mrs. Clemmie Bailey (Alston-Bailey). She saved my life that first year at Alston. I had four eighth grade classes and one sixth grade class that was on the complete other side of the campus. I could never get there before the bell.
But Mrs. Bailey (sixth grade administrator) could and did. She would be waiting on me to arrive and have my class in marine drill order. Sometime she would walk by and spot a student cutting up in my class and come in with her walking cane and point to the culprit with it and haul him/her outside.
The whole class, including myself, would freeze and I remember overhearing conversations like: “I knew your mamma when she was your age, your grandmamma and they both had a chip on their shoulder like you….I knocked theirs off and I am gonna knock yours off too.” (I never had any more trouble with that student.) I, absolutely, adored Mrs. Clemmie Bailey.
So until tomorrow: You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. There is no doubt God lead me to this beautiful home town of Summerville. I think God gave me a stepping stone to heaven when He brought me here.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
Eva Cate’s class waited until Monday to have their Valentines Party…Eva Cate was so excited about taking her princess cards! Love you sweetie!
Jackson got to see her new home yesterday for the first time….she said she would send photos later…but she is very excited! She will start moving soon after we return from Pawleys. It looks warm and inviting from the doorway even…!