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Miss Bessie Smith, My 1st grade teacher, helped me to find my Muse

Updated on June 18, 2012
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Your Muse: find her: ask, seek, and knock on doors

Miss Smith was a young, beautiful, gifted Roman Catholic lady with a passion for teaching. I was fortunate to have her at a time (during my first, second and third grade, formative years) when I was in great need of a great mentor. She must have been 21 years old when I first received her into my life, in a very deprived, poor and rural environment. The little one-roomed (Amish-like) school house, grades 1 through 8, was a place where "no one who was likely to succeed in life" originated from. This school, "The Fitzgerald Negro School on Coleman Road," was a place, in 1953, when I first studied there, that had old, hand-me-down, books from the white children's classrooms in better school buildings. During the years of segregation, in the county of Williamson, in Middle Tennessee, we Negro school children were happy to have any books at all to read.

As I write this discourse, I am not angry, bitter, or in a complaining mood as I write. As a matter of fact, I love history, and I love writing case histories. To the contrary, I am thankful to God for the few educational resources that were available, "back in the good old days," and thankful for a teacher, the likes of Miss Bessie Smith, who could take these meager resources, and a substandard school-house and transform this "context" into one of the grandest environments in the world for teaching the 3-Rs (that is, reading, writing and arithmetic).

Many of us, that studied in the context of the Williamson County, Tennessee, Negro School System went on in "Life" to make worthwhile contributions to society, or to the Global Community. For example, my dear friend, Dr. Felix R. Lawrence, D.D.S., D.Sc. (Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon), was a graduate of the little Negro one-roomed school house. And, then of course there was myself, who studied at the little Fitzgerald Negro School, and went on to graduate from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, The Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine in East Lansing, Michigan, The George Washington University (College of Medicine and the Health Sciences (summa cum laude)), in Washington, D.C., and later on, to earn a graduate degree from the Vanderbilt University's, The Divinity School, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Lawrence and myself, and others like us (and there were other, like Dr. Josie Scales (who I took to our high school prom)), who managed to survive a wicked educational system, and to go on in Life to achieve some goals, do not mean to boast, or to appear as braggarts as we share our accomplishments with the world, but to the contrary, we want others to know that they can survive and accomplish goals, just as we did, against odds, against great odds even.

Finding one's Muse can be done simply by moving forward in Life, without looking to the left or to the right, but staying focused, while doing one's best to learn. However, there is some hard work involved along the way. But, if you set your mind to do something, you can probably achieve it. If you trip and fall on your face (that is, if you make a mistake), get up, brush the dust off of you, and continue on. Don't give up. Don't ever give up. If you give up, you have lost the battle.

Okay. Now you know how I found my Muse. You write about what you know. You write about want you do. You also write, as best as you can, learning to write better, as you go. I wish you the best as you go. Take care. Peace.

Regards, Dr. Haddox

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    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 

      6 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      Voted up, beautiful and interesting. You have written a lovely story of a great teacher and how to overcome obstacles in the path of life and reach for the stars.

      My wife has taught both 1st and 2nd Grades and this September will be teaching for 38 years. She often jokes that they are going to have to carry her out of the building on a stretcher because she loves so much what she does. She too has taught future doctors, dentists, attorneys and professionals. As a matter of fact there is a teacher in her building that she taught in the 1st Grade. To this day my wife still gets invitations to weddings and graduations. Great teachers are a true asset and I am so glad you had one as excellent as my wife.

    • thesingernurse profile image

      Tina Siuagan 

      6 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Thank you for sharing such wonderful account you have in your life, Doctor. I am grateful that I have stumbled upon this hub of yours. I've always adored your passion for sharing valuable insights and information to others; so the moment I clicked on the link to this article, I know I'd learn a lot once again.

      And I did! I even realized something even more important.

      These days, I must say, I encounter many shortcomings - career and relationships. Honestly, I've never felt so "empty" before. I feel as if I'm stuck into something and I couldn't get out. With that said, I realized, I have to find what ignites the passion in me. The inspiration that will define my purpose.

      I don't know yet what to do. But I think I really have to start in finding that "muse" who/which will help me find my way out.

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