This is my tribute and statement during Teacher Appreciation Week about the former George Washington Carver High School in Fieldale and a first-generation group of teachers.
“The Gold ‘ore’ In Education is … the teacher … regarded as a semi-god, a community leader, a moral example, a foundation of knowledge, the symbol of wisdom, the walking truth of life, and an encyclopedia of culture!”
These words from an unidentified author form a most “fitting tribute” to the first generation of teachers at the George Washington Carver High School in Fieldale, — and to Black teachers overall.
When I consider my days at G.W. and reflect on my teachers, I have some of the fondest memories and defining stories that I treasure and will continue to do so. I owe these gifts to the magical, dynamic, competent and inspiring teachers at George Washington Carver High School.
They taught, and we learned. They spoke, and we respected them … and while doing our best to meet their expectations of us.
They had high expectations and inspired confidence in us — the students — and we were motivated to excel.
Their values were a re-enforcement of our family’s values. We didn’t want to disappoint our teachers such that they be forced to say, ”I will have to call your parents.” No student wants to hear that.
They were tough but encouraging and patient to assist and aid us after hours, sometimes missing recess, staying behind after school, with no playing, helping us to “get it” and/or make-up what we had missed. Maybe we had been a little too slow to grasp it during the regular class period.
They were disciplinarians, encouragers, role models and cheerleaders for the students.
Above all, they were the guardians for the race and expected of their students the same. Their message to students: “Remember: You are representing your race, your family and definitely you represent me and my teachers. Your success is success for us all.”
G.W. Carver teachers ... you are a natural treasure for the community and the nation. Your teaching, example and words of wisdom, advice and encouragement is the “gold in education.” If we were to clone you, our problems of education would be solved.
Love, appreciation and blessings for each of you.
The Rev. Tyler C. Millner is pastor of Morning Star Holy Church in Axton and an alumnus of George Washington Carver High School, Class of 1964.