Educators recognized at WM City Council for Black History Month
Teachers, counselors honored for contribution to the community
Ten West Memphis Public School counselors were recognized for Black History Month. Mayor Bill Johnson lauded the effort of Councilwoman Lorraine Robinson to produce the recognition ceremony at City Hall. Robinson exhorted the award recipients to be proud of their Black heritage before presenting proclamations to honorees.
“We celebrate Black History Month,” said Robinson. “It’s not just for a season, Black History is ongoing. It’s world history because where would the world be without Black people? I can proudly say I am glad to be in the skin that I am in. I’m glad God chose me to be born this way. I have no reason to be ashamed. Be forever proud of yourself.”
Robinson paraphrased 1 Timothy 4:12 and reminded the counselors of divine counsel.
“The Bible says let no man despise your youth,” said Robinson. “Some days are very, very difficult, just keep your head up. Pray, He will help you; He will give you strength.”
The focus shifted to the honorees.
“Welcome to all the mighty counselors,” said Robinson. “We appreciate all you do. As a school counselor you are a community leader. You talk to parents, you nurse the children, you do a lot of wonderful things which help our city be the way that it should. They learn to become better people and therefore better citizens for West Memphis.”
West Memphis School Counselors came forward one by one to receive their plaque and hear a brief professional biography. Latoya Beale, Tamija Burnett, Annie Ester, Linda Fields, Ruthie Stout Gray, Dionne Harris, Latasha Johnson, Shavon Lowe were recognized.
Three educators had finished the course retiring as counselors at local schools. Rubye Black Johnson, started teaching in 1972 at Helena-West Helena and worked at Wonder Elementary for 24 years finishing her career as an academic coach and adult education counselor.
Ruthie Stout Gray worked 42 years as a counselor in WMSD. She was the first Black teacher to integrate East Jr. High in 1970. She retired as counselor at Wonder Jr. High. Many students have received college scholarships from the foun- dation that bears her name.
Shelley Williams stood in to receive the honor for her husband Eddie Williams.
Mr. Williams Started at Wonder High as a math teacher and moved to West Memphis High in 1971 as part of the desegregation plan. He served as school counselor at two different locations for 11 years. During the ‘86-87 school year he worked at historic Little Rock Central High School, returning to WMSD as a guidance counselor capping a 39 year career.
School Superintendent Jon Collins and Assistant Superintendent
Terri McCann were on hand to extend congratulations on behalf of the school district.
By John Rech