Lincoln class of ‘78 to honor teachers

Published 12:06 am Sunday, July 8, 2018

Audry Ervin Jones remembers these things from her alma mater, Abraham Lincoln High in Port Arthur:

• A science teacher, Ronald Spooner, told better students they were free to sit in the back of the class; failing students were required to sit in the front. Everyone wanted to sit in the back, and some would work their way back there.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

• Teachers told students the test of how well they mastered academic material was by how well they could explain it to classmates who didn’t understand it. Eating lunch, she remembers, oftentimes involved explaining math or science concepts to students who struggled. “If they taught it well,” Jones said her teachers would say, “we could explain it to our peers.”

• One teacher after handing out grades would require that students announce their grades to the class. If a student did poorly and mumbled his grade aloud, the teacher would ask him or her to repeat it to the class. No one wanted to do that.

• Henry May, an English teacher, mandated that students diagram sentences. After a long career in business and accounting, she says, she still “knows all about gerunds.”

That’s why Jones, who graduated at Lincoln High in 1978 as valedictorian, said she asked for a new program to be included in this year’s 40th reunion: Time allotted to honor teachers. She pitched the idea to classmate Veronica Taylor Matthews, who agreed to help, and to reunion president James Smith.

The program, “A Time of Reflection,” will fill the 10-noon July 24 time slot at Israel Chapel AME Church, 948 Freeman Ave., which she says was the forerunner for Lincoln High, the fountainhead for black public education in the city. It will also include a tour of the school. Email to confirm your attendance.

“The class will honor those who dedicated their time, shared their knowledge, experiences and inspired many with encouraging words — our teachers,” she said.

The child of two teachers — briefly, her father was her math teacher — she said she earned a bachelor’s at the University of Houston and a master’s at Texas Women’s University. She credits her parents and her teachers for preparing her for success.

Jones said Lincoln graduates were exposed to excellent teachers — all of hers held graduate degrees, she said — who by example and leadership inspired students to succeed.

“We were prepped to be the best,” Jones said. “Competition was always encouraged.”

She said Lincoln High had “lots of classroom integrity. They threw the bait in such a way that we wanted to swallow.” It also was a school that melded students from a variety of elementary schools into a cohesive student body. Lincoln High integrated in 1972.

“We learned how to carry ourselves from excellent role models,” she said.

That’s why Jones and Matthews and now others among the some 300 graduates in the class of 1978 will honor their teachers at this year’s weeklong reunion. Seventeen teachers will attend. They include Naomi Bailey; Vivian Bobb; Marjorie Cole; James Gamble; Valerie Haley; Artemus Hancock ; Mary Lathan; Leroy Leopold; Cordell Lindsey; Robert McLane; Annette Mitchell; Barbara Perrot; Ruby Rogers; Ronald Spooner; Thomasene Thomas; Gloria Venison and Richard Williams.

A flier has been included on Facebook and she said several classmates have said they are interested in attending.