While our year is marked by seasons, there are other events besides those found in nature that lead us to change course and look ahead. August is marked for us in the ‘Boro by all things back to school. Even though my nest is empty, I’m still influenced by this time of year, as it affects my colleagues at work, traffic patterns on the roads, and lines at area stores.
Back to School Brings Back Memories
The recipient of a Murfreesboro public school education, my earliest school memory is found in a small house that used to be on the property of Bradley School. Here, under the watchful eye of Mrs. Flatt, I began my education as a newly minted kindergartener. I remember a few of the fundamentals I learned in that small house, including how to tie my shoelaces and the alphabet. I also learned, the hard way, that you are to button your coat after you put it on, not before. The object lesson of Mrs. Flatt is etched forever in my mind.
Public Education is Not Free
The bulk of my elementary years was then spent at the beloved Reeves-Rogers Elementary School on Greenland Drive. Each school year began with a ritual led by my father. On the day we registered and got our textbooks, my father was handed a piece of paper by the official which said, “Free Textbooks.” It was just one of the myriad of papers that parents were required to sign before their children were granted permission to study. Though I thought it shockingly disrespectful to a government document, my father always marked out the word free and put instead “Paid by Taxpayers.”
Humiliated that my father would choose to dispute such a thing, I was even more embarrassed that he would then speak up, as he handed in the form, making sure they knew that nothing is free in this world, not even a public school education or the associated textbooks—another object lesson engraved for life.
Education is Not the Only Benefit of Schooling
I’m thankful for my Murfreesboro education, and for the teachers from kindergarten through college at MTSU, who poured into me their knowledge and care. From Mrs. Dement, Ms. Phillips, and Mrs. Trout, to Mrs. Black, and Drs. Bart and June McCash, to name a few. There were school librarians, including my cousin, Marguerite Thackston, who let me work in their libraries at every stage of my academic life. I’m the woman I am today in part because of their work.
Yet, in this year of 2022, I’m also mindful that education is just part of the role schools play in our lives. The Oakland High class of 1982 will celebrate our fortieth anniversary this September, and with that historic event, I remember the friends with whom I’ve grown in the educational process. Many have remained in the ‘Boro most of their lives and become the backbone of our current society and culture.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” I’m grateful for the character-building education that was and is found in Rutherford County institutions and homes. Education is neither cheap nor free, but it is crucial to the future of our society. I’m grateful I received mine in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.