MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee on May 10, 2014, presented Homer Pittard Campus School Principal Sherry King with a special token from the university in observance of the school’s 85th anniversary this year. The celebration continues next week when the Friends of Campus School sponsors a public open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, on the school grounds located on the western edge of the MTSU campus.
Dr. Rita Schaerer King, President of Friends of Campus School, presents Gary Clardy, Rutherford Count Schools Assistant Superintendent of Engineering and Construction, with a $2,000 check from FCS. This donation coupled with funds raised by the Parent Teachers Club allowed Campus School to install a uniform digital clock system throughout the school. Additionally, Friends of Campus School funded replacement of two outside awnings.
I look back in time occasionally and think to myself how awesome it was to be a child. When I do that I think of Campus School.
Just about everyday my mother would be doing her thing in her classroom after school. I was kind of left to roam the halls per se. However, I never really did that.
I spent many an hour of my youth hanging out with the janitors of Campus School. The boiler room was 50 feet or so right down the hall from my mother’s classroom.
I loved nothing more as a child than knocking on that door, asking if I could come in, and hanging out with Felix and John.
I somewhat feel that those two awesome gentlemen raised me. I would hang out with them just about everyday. I would hang out with them in the boiler room, and I would hang out with them as we walked around and did janitorial duties. I helped them, and I loved it.
Felix was the most gentle soul that I think I’ve ever met in my entire life. He was such a beautiful person. I could not say one bad thing about that man whatsoever. He was always like “come on, John”, and we’d walk around together and talk.
That man had an influence upon my life almost as much as my parents, and I love him for that, and he’s one of the reasons that I am a kind and gentle person to this day.
I can still see his face, hear his speech, and feel his love.
Felix was a great man, and me at 45 years still appreciates that man. He still means the world to me, and I love everything that he taught me.
In 1979 Jimmy Stokes started his work at Campus School as a caretaker of students and staff members. Of course, he was hired by MTSU as the custodian, too. He was custodian on the third floor where I taught fourth grade.
In 1988 I became the principal. When Mr. Jimmy turned 50, I took a cassette recorder in each classroom to record students’ comments about him. I told the children to think of something Mr. Jimmy had done for them. They could record two sentences but they could not mention cleaning.
The comments filled one cassette and part of another one! I vividly remember some of the statements. One student said, “Mr. Jimmy climbed in the dumpster and got my retainer out for me.” Another said, “Mr. Jimmy gave me 15 cents so I could buy an ice cream.” Many students told about Mr. Jimmy unlocking doors after school to retrieve coats, textbooks, notebooks, etc. Parents brought birthday presents for Jimmy. They put up three long tables in the lobby to hold the gifts.
The staff planned a surprise birthday party for Jimmy at my home on Tennessee Boulevard. Liz Whorley Bradley, former principal at Campus School was spending a few days with me. On the day of the party, she said, “I cannot believe you have Jimmy cleaning your house and decorating inside and out for his own party!” I knew everything would be “standing tall”, as Jimmy described a perfect job. Soon after the faculty arrived, Jimmy was in the kitchen washing dishes and talking to several people when we sang “Happy Birthday” to him! He was overwhelmed with the surprise!
When school dismissed early on snowy days, Jimmy asked each teacher for his or her keys so he could warm up the cars and drive each one to the most convenient door. He escorted anyone, who needed assistance, to the vehicle!
When former students and teachers came back to visit during my years as principal, the majority of them asked, “Where is Jimmy?” (before asking about anyone else/a former teacher) Later they asked about teachers!
Jimmy would often ‘critique’ bulletin boards as I was ‘putting’ them up. I feel sure he did this for other teachers. He could be counted on to find items needed when one did not have a particular item. He knew where to ‘find’ most anything needed by teacher or student. He would often pretend to magically make the fluorescent lights come on by saying ‘abra cadabra’ and lightly touching the light bulb with my ‘antique’ meter stick…this was done when students were present (after I sent for him to replace a bulb I thought had burned out)…they loved it. He often borrowed my ‘antique’ meter stick (about 3 meters long) to perform the same feat in other rooms. When I retired I told him the meter stick was his. (Bet it is no longer there….no telling how old it was … probably as old or older than the building. Forgive the nostalgia.)
Campus School Principal 1988-1995
At the end of my first year as principal of Homer Pittard Campus School in 1989, we were planning events for the school’s 60th year in the stately building. As I considered the events of the year, I decided we needed to record our memories of the year for the future. My memories included the… following: a fire scare and evacuation of the building (neighbors brought coats and blankets for us), a bathroom backup that flooded the entire basement floor (yes, including the cafeteria) and the explosion of our boiler on a Saturday morning resulting in several days out of school for repairs. This evolved into the idea of having everyone record and bury memories for the 100th celebration in 1929.
I contacted Woodfin’s Funeral Home. Bubba Woodfin, a former Campus School student, donated a waterproof “capsule” or container engraved with the 1929 date.
During a special event, the memory capsule was buried on Campus School’s front lawn. I plan to attend the capsule’s opening as an excited, 82 year old, young-at-heart individual!
5th Grade Teacher 1973-1982
Library Media Specialist 1982-2008
I was hired by Miss Martha G. Hampton as the second 5thgrade teacher at Campus School in 1973. I taught with Mrs. Jean Moser, the lead 5thgrade teacher. One year I taught 5th and 6th grade science. Other years, 1973-1982, I taught Reading, Language Arts, and Science. We individualized and increased our reading speed using, among other resources, the ‘Controlled Reader’. We learned science by “doing”!
In 1982 I became the Library Media Specialist. I missed my classroom but embraced K-6 students as they visited the library daily. We learned library skills by using all types of hands-on activities. I loved science and realized the importance for children to see it, learn about it, know about its value outside of the classroom. I used every opportunity to ‘throw in’ some mind-dazzling science. I, also, spurred their interest and love for science by providing a science table with activities available for them to enjoy after lessons or check out sessions. We always had a chess game going and occasionally held ‘play-offs’! My goal was for students to love coming to the library.
In addition to Miss Hampton, my principals included Mrs.Elizabeth Buchanan Whorley Bradley, Dr. Ron Towery, Dr. Rita Schaerer King, and Dr. Stan Baskin. I feel it was the spirit of innovation that made Campus School so very special during my years there.
I especially remember Mr. Ed Jordan, former member of the Rutherford County Board of Education, complimenting the faculty in an address he gave in 2004 during Campus School’s 75th Anniversary celebration. He stated that he believed ‘Campus School teachers would be successful if they just pitched a tent outside and had nothing else in the way of equipment and materials’. That was a high compliment and let me know he felt we were creative, effective educators.
I also enjoyed working with the Education Department at Middle Tennessee State College, later Middle Tennessee State University, We worked with university personnel to provide demonstration lessons and instruction for college students in training to become teachers. Today I enjoy seeing former students who are effective teachers.
Another wonderful experience was teaching in Campus School’s summer school program. I initially taught for Miss Hampton and served as the director for several years. During my final summer as director, we had the school’s first summer dramatic production, ‘The Music Man’. It was performed for the public. Many talented students, children of my former students, and other Rutherford County Schools participated in this successful program.
We had the best of both worlds ‘back in the day’ at Campus School. The memories live on. I loved my tenure there from 1973-2008. My three daughters attended Campus School. It was our second home.
Joan Clark Mann