Testimonies from the Tuesday night recalled a bygone era when a teacher’s responsibilities included firing up the stove to heat the classroom and volunteers built high school football stadiums by hand.
About 20 people attended the meeting in the library. Brown will close at the end of the 2012-2013 school year and become the new campus for . Brown students and some from and will attend .
A committee of 11 parents, principals, school council representatives and one Smyrna City Council Representative comprise a panel charged with choosing a name for the new school.
Several people suggested the school be named for their parents and former teachers. Genie Brown, a teacher at Belmont Hills Elementary School, asked that the committee consider naming the school after her mother Marion Worley Mitchell. She said Mitchell became a Cobb County teacher at age 18 where she taught first and fourth grades simultaneously at Mableton Elementary School.
“In those early teaching years she’d have to go to school at 5 a.m. or before 5 a.m. and gather kindling to build a fire,” she said. “That was all they had to heat the building. After teaching all day she was the janitor of the facility and she also provided socks for the children in her class because they usually came barefoot.”
Ultimately Mitchell ended up teaching in Smyrna where she taught Wit Carson who got emotional when he asked the committee to name the school after his beloved first grade teacher.
“She said if we could read and comprehend we could do anything,” he said. “So I can do that. There are a lot of things I can’t do, math and different things, but I can read and comprehend. When I went to second grade my teacher had to take me back to Ms. Mitchell because I thought she was doing it wrong. We got that straightened out quickly."
Karen Darnell, a Cobb County teacher, nominated her father-in-law Jack Darnell, a former Cobb County School Board Member. She said Jack Darnell learned to support education from his father who donated the family’s land for the construction of Fair Oaks Elementary School. Jack Darnell continued the family legacy through his service on the school board and in the community
“Jack was a commercial contractor and he was particularly interested in making sure that Cobb County build quality schools that would stand for many, many years,” she said. “In my job for Cobb County for many years I traveled from school to school as a diagnostician. His name is on the outside plaque of many, many schools. So that is especially meaningful”
Darnell’s daughter, Joyce Broughton, recalled her father’s dedication to the Fair Oaks community, particularly to Osborne High School’s first football team.
“There weren’t any funds provided for the state or by the county for a football program,” she said. “It was the booster club of the school that funded that the stadium. My dad and other community volunteers provided the stadium and built the stadium bleachers, scoreboard and lighting system on the land that had been donated by my grandfather.
Smyrna resident Liz Davis was the last person to speak and she offered a simple solution.
“These are wonderful people we’ve heard about it,” she said. “I would like to ask you to consider naming the school after all of these people and all these great citizens of Smyrna by naming it Smyrna Elementary. I guess I’m just a real simple person, but I just think it would be quite a tribute to every person in this room for it to be Smyrna Elementary just Plain Jane."
Other people who couldn’t make the meeting emailed the district their suggestions. In addition to the names proposed by the speakers, other suggestions included Lasting Impressions Elementary School, Distinction Elementary School, Grace Garren Whitfield Elementary School, Jonquil Elementary School and Jonquil City Elementary School.
Tom Mathis Elementary and Pete Wood Elementary were also proposed, but can’t be considered because the school district requires that a school only be named for a person who has been deceased at least three years.
Brown Elementary School Principal Brett Ward serves as the naming committee’s chair. He said the committee will accept feedback and from the public until Monday, Aug. 20. The committee will narrow down the list down to three names at a meeting on Aug. 28 and then submit the list to the Cobb County School Board who will ultimately decide the name of the school in September.
Those serving on the naming committee are:
- Brett Ward, Brown Elementary School principal and appointed principal of the new elementary school
- Joy Crane, Brown Elementary School Council
- Andrew Flurry, Brown Elementary School parent
- Kara Gold, Smyrna Education Foundation member
- Teri Anulewicz, Ward 3 City Council Representative
- Ann Kirk, Belmont Hills School Council
- Sara Larios, Belmont Hills Elementary School parent
- Terry Floyd, former Belmont Hills Elementary School principal
- Lisa Lockwood, Argyle School Council
- Tricia Hinrichs, Argyle Elementary School parent
- Bob Babay, Argyle Elementary School principal