BLACK HISTORY MONTH — Germain Jackson Eddie works to guide youth to path of success

Published 12:20 am Thursday, February 1, 2024

Bright morning sun poured into Germain Jackson Eddie’s office at Memorial High School, mirroring the personality of the longtime educator who works to transition students for post-high school life.

A Houston native, Eddie is the daughter of a teacher and a preacher, who started her career in the corporate world but soon found her path in education, helping youth to their own path of success.

And as she does so, she’s making history. She was recently recognized as an honoree during the 38th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. She also has a wall of plaques plus trophies for working with cheerleading students and is a co-author of “Understanding Your Assignment,” to which she wrote a chapter, “The Forgiveness Letter,” which provides a victim’s impact statement read during the sentencing of her only son’s killer.

Germain Jackson Eddie is seen in her office at Memorial High School. (Mary Meaux/The News)

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The path

Eddie’s professional journey began as sales manager for hair and makeup products out of North Carolina. Her territory was the Golden Triangle and Lake Charles. She stayed with this for five years until the company downsized and went more internet-based.

“I fell on what my mom was, a school teacher. Looking at her I decided to become one, too,” Eddie said.

She began with Beaumont Independent School District, where she was a homebound teacher for two years and high school special education teacher for nine years.

In 2008 she interviewed, and got, the job of supervisor of special education secondary campus, which she held for 15 years. She is now coordinator of vocational adjustment.

Working in education is priceless, she said.

“It’s because you are changing lives in my situation. I plan for their future,” she said. “I plan their career of choice, their education, whether they want to go to college or go to vocational school. I’m all part of their planning phase for what’s going to happen when they leave high school, and that’s called transition.”

Eddie is in a position to positively impact the lives of the students she works with. She interviews them, learns of their goals and helps develop their goals. They build self-determination skills and, once they graduate, won’t have to depend on other people that make it.

Germain Jackson Eddie is seen in her office at Memorial High School. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Difficult times and grief

In 2017 during Hurricane Harvey, Eddie was one of many Port Arthurans rescued from the floodwaters. She was rescued from her home by a neighbor and his truck and brought to Gulfway Drive and Savannah Avenue, one of the only dry spots in that section of the city.

Later the U.S. Coast Guard helicoptered her to Orange. From there she was sent to Lake Charles Civic Center, where the American Red Cross was set up.

Her former supervisor in BISD allowed her and her granddaughter to stay in her home.

The following January her only child, Melvin Joseph Maxwell Jr., was stabbed to death in a Houston hotel room. His body was not discovered for more than two weeks.

Earlier this month — six years and a day after his murder — her son’s killer was sentenced to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty.

Her faith is what is pulling her through the grief, saying “if it wasn’t for the Lord on my side, I don’t know where I would be.”

She was introduced to “Understanding Your Assignment” through Tonnia Cotton of Houston. Eddie became involved in a women’s support group organized by Cotton. She started attending Bible study workshops and conferences virtually. She then had a chance to provide a contribution to the book.

“My journey of grieving methods have been very difficult. For the past six years I experienced bitterness, disparity, depression and emptiness; just plain old sadness and sorrowfulness,” she said. “I was so upset with the loss of my son.”

Then Jesus made it clear she had an assignment.

“I have to forgive the person that murdered my son. And it took me six years to write that letter,” she said.

The letter morphed from the perspective of a person with anger in their soul to one of forgiveness.

The book “Understanding Your Assignment” is available on Amazon and features inspirational stories from women of faith, according to the book description.

Infectious smile

The topic of discussion switches and Eddie is back with her infectious smile; the type of smile that greets staff and students in the hallways of the high school. She is not defined by her grief.

Eddie leads a busy life, one that pays homage to her culture. She’s a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Support Group of Southeast Texas and the local NAACP.

The arrival of Black History Month is a chance to remember the past and look toward the future.

Celebrating Black History Month begins early with the MLK event and Dr. King’s six principles of non-violence and continues to February with her sorority and literacy programs.

“We want our students to remember what they went through, you know for us with the history, the civil rights era and all those eras where we were able to improve our lives and grow. We want our students to be part of it,” she said.

She is part of programs at the school as well as at her church.

“Black History Month is the one month that we get a chance to celebrate our history, our heritage. We have come a long, long way,” she said. “Not just as Blacks, but as female Blacks for one. We have done a lot of things. We have a vice president that’s African American, so we definitely have a lot to live for, look for and celebrate. And that’s what this is all about. Celebrating our heritage and learning from our heritage.”