Two retired educators have been honored by the Scotland County NAACP for decades of contributions to education in the area.
Elouise Jackson, wife of the late Lawrence Jackson, Jr., and June Harrell, wife of the late Anzell Harrell, Sr., were give the NAACP’s first Legacy Awards last month.
“These are the pioneers that have left a lasting mark on our community by virtue of their involvement and the commitment to not only excellence and their commitment to history, but most of all their commitment to the students in our community,” said Terence Williams, president of the Scotland County NAACP chapter.
The NAACP plans to offer the Anzell Harrel, Sr. and Lawrence Jackson, Jr. scholarships to Scotland County students in the coming years.
“Every year Mr. Jackson would ensure that several kids would get full ride-scholarships as a pipeline and a gateway to Fayetteville State,” said Williams. “He contributed to many many students’ education in the community.”
“Both of their wives, upon their deaths, have kept that hope alive,” Williams added. “They’re still very much active, holding up that banner of excellence and commitment to education. They are still pushing kids through with scholarships, still assisting families to ensure that their children have an opportunity outside their current circumstances.”
Harrell, originally of Burlington, has lived in Scotland County since 1956, when she graduated from N.C. A&T University and moved here to teach business at the Laurinburg Institute. After five years there, she taught at R.B. Dean and Maxton High School in Maxton until 1983, teaching at Purnell Swett in Pembroke until her retirement in 1996.
In addition to business, she also taught band and choir classes, having played French horn in high school and college. Her younger son Todd followed in her musical footsteps, also playing in the A&T band.
“When I was in college, I majored in business, but I kept up my music,” said Harrell. “In fact, on Saturday mornings, I would go to conducting classes and kept busy like that.” Over her years as a teacher, though, Harrell noted a shift in her students’ attitudes toward the role of book learning in their lives.
“There’s no comparison from when I started to what goes on today,” she said. “I don’t think kids value their education as they did then. Working in a small place like Maxton, we had so many students who were doing so well, becoming doctors and lawyers; they were really valuing their education where they wanted to go on and do something, and we had a lot of them to do that. That was because, I think, of the way we worked with them and the way they felt about their education.”
Though she treated her students equally and found success even with those less willing to learn, Harrell said that retirement was not entirely unwelcome to her.
“I enjoyed my work; I really enjoyed teaching,” Harrell said. “I had a lot of students who didn’t understand at the time because they thought I was so strict. But today they understand that - a lot of them come to see me. I saw a change through the years as to the students - the way they were and the way they acted. But I never changed my tactics and the way that I dealt with my students, and it always worked.”
Keeping each finger in a different pie has served as a model for Harrell, who has remained a part of community life even after the death of her husband.
“We’ve just been a busy family and we kept things going and my children have always been involved,” she said. “I’ve met so many people that I know I would not have met if I hadn’t been doing these things. I would hope that people would feel that I’ve been very genuine and that I love people. If I wasn’t involved with people, I don’t know what would happen.”
Anzell Harrell was also an educator, teaching at Shaw and I. Ellis Johnson before becoming an assistant principal and driver education instructor at Scotland High School.
“He was everybody’s driver’s ed teacher, and he was one that went above and beyond the call of duty in making sure that people locally began to start off with a good education, thus moving them forward,” Williams said. “He did not mind sharing the knowledge so that everybody’s family could be just as successful as he was.”
Elouise Jackson could not be reached by presstime for this story.