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Southern Eyes

Talk about a stressful week. McDuffie school people had more than anyone should ever have to handle when they lost one of their beloved, Beth Newsome. As if that wasn't enough stress to deal with, their calendar was marked for the visit of the state superintendent. No one can fault Thomson Middle Principal Claude Powell, when at one point he admitted that he was drained. While he was showing his true colors, Mr. Powell - well -showed his true colors. He loves his staff as a family, just like every other principal in the county. Rather than having the chance to mourn the loss of a family member, he had to keep his chin up and face the highest official on his totem poll. I'm sure he'd rather have called in sick last Wednesday when State Superintendent Kathy Cox was arriving. But he didn't. And to their credit, his assistant principals and other staff members supported him in a presentation that all of McDuffie County should be proud of.

I'm sure Mr. Powell has no desire to look for a replacement for Mrs. Newsome, because there is no such thing. She was definitely one of a kind. I'm sure her students don't want to see a replacement walk through their classroom door anymore than any of us would want to think about another person filling the hole left by someone we loved. However, I am also sure that they will be able to handle the situation when it arrives. After all, they've been taught well. In all my interviews, I heard that Mrs. Newsome taught so much more than reading and writing. She taught living - with her chin held high and a smile on her face and in her heart.

My memory of Mrs. Newsome is the story she entertained us with at last year's Teacher of the Year banquet. The story is in the box on page 2A of this paper. She told a student he needed to get some common sense. That, along with her comment about holding class in a student's locker, reminds me of one of my teachers. She told us repeatedly to "use your head for more than a hat rack." It's been more years than I can count since I've been in fifth grade, so I don't remember her name. But I remember her voice saying that every time we shrugged our shoulders or gave wrong answers. Even though she spoke louder and meaner than any teacher I'd had, the lessons I learned in her class will never be forgotten. I learned that a quiet wallflower (me) could work with the life of the party (the loud teacher) and get results.

I encourage you to take time to show appreciation to the teachers who have such a positive influence on our children. And take even more time to pray for the students, friends and family of Mrs. Newsome.

Web posted on Thursday, December 06, 2007

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