Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ingram Looks Back On 35 Years Of Life

Truitt Ingram served as MISD Superintendent for 15 years and guided the district through a bond program which produced what is now Marshall High School as well as desegregation of Marshall public schools. This article appeared in the July 1, 1984 edition of the Marshall News Messenger, which was Mr. Ingram's first day of retirement.

By Diane Hughes
Staff Writer

Today is the threshold of a new direction for Truitt Ingram, as the first day of his retirement after 15 years as superintendent of Marshall public schools and a 35-year career in education.

While he says he will miss work, Ingram is ready for a change of pace. "I plan on fishing, I plan on hunting, I plan on loafing and then I'll re-evaluate and decide whether to start over or look at a second career," he said.

He is considering consulting or public relations work in the education field.

He first found his way into education with ambitions of coaching. At the age of 8, he had discovered he had a talent for basketball, a skill he refined through the public school, college and the U.S. Navy levels. "I thought the world would end if I didn't coach."

The importance of education was impressed early upon Ingram, who grew up on a farm near Quitman. While many other children had to miss school to work in the fields, the young Ingrams never did at the insistence of their mother, a "pusher of education."

He started his career with a year as a coach and principal in Omaha, moving on to Pewitt High School in Omaha-Naples as a teacher and coach.

"Teaching is my first love," said Ingram, who taught history and government. "From the economic standpoint, if I could have survived as a teacher, I never would have done anything else."

His first thoughts of a career in the administrative side of education came after five years in the field, at the prompting of colleagues. "I realized I couldn't coach forever," he said. "It was a much greater opportunity to serve the youth, the profession and the community."

He was to spend six years as principal of schools in Commerce and Texarkana and another nine years as superintendent of Atlanta schools before coming to Marshall.

For Ingram, the highlights of his career were leading the Marshall system through its school improvements program, culminating in the building of the new high school, and guiding the local school district successfully through desegregation.

But the initial desegregation of Marshall schools in the early 1970s was also the most trying time for the administrator. There were two separate school systems at the time, one for the black children, the other for the white students. "As a result, the total school system had to be reorganized," he said.

Nevertheless, Marshall had an easier time of desegregating its schools than many other communities.

"One of the things that the Marshall school district was able to do that many other school districts were not able to do, we went through the desegregation process without any physical confrontation of any kind," said Ingram.

The goals of public education have remained constant throughout Ingram's 35-year career -- "everybody wants the best for their youngsters" -- but the governance and philosophies are much changed in some respects, he said.

The federal government played no part in funding or regulation of the public schools when Ingram started out in the field, but the amount of federal control mushroomed as federal money began to trickle in. "I have never seen so little money bring so much control," said the superintendent.

The philosophy that schools exist to give opportunities and the responsibility for learning rests on the student changed in the 1970s, shifting the burden of that responsibility to the schools, he said.

"An institution or a school cannot make an individual learn," said Ingram. "Somewhere down the line, we've got to move back to the philosophy that the individual's got to be the captain of his ship as far as learning."

Education reforms currently on the legislative drawing board will not make any significant difference immediately in Texas public schools, he said. "There is no magic formula that is going to have a big impact. Change in education is a slow process."

Many of the ideas in the legislation were already under way, such as teacher competency testing, said Ingram.

"Most school districts never did get near as far away from the basics as some folks implied," he said.

Public attention to education issues has grown in recent years because of heavier media coverage and changes in the audience itself, according to the superintendent. In the 1950s and 1960s, education received very little media coverage in Northeast Texas and had fewer controversies, he said.

"As any nation or community gets better trained, the more ideas you're going to have about what should be and what shouldn't be," said Ingram. "People get opinionated."

"In the 1950s, we taught kids to ask questions, to ask why. Now in the 80s, we are reaping the results."

The biggest problem in the Marshall school district, in Ingram's eyes, is apathy on the part of parents or the guardians. Thirty percent of the children in the school system do not live with their parents.

During the past 15 years, the district has made its greatest strides in improving its physical facilities, its finances and steady progress in students' test scores, he said.

Ingram sees the local school district's strongest asset as its "outstanding leadership and outstanding teachers overall. Teachers or personnel, in the final analysis, are the keys to good education. You can have everything in the world, but if you don't have good teachers, it won't happen."

For teachers just starting out, Ingram would offer three pieces of advice:

"There is no magic formula for success. It requires hard work."

"Put the student number one in all your planning, all your thinking and all your teaching, and if you put the student number one, you will be a winner."

"Have high expectations of students, treat them fairly and demand that they accomplish."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Spunky Marshall Speller Off To Make Texas First

This article appeared in the Marshall News Messenger on May 27, 1984. It chronicles the journey of MJHS student John Stephens, who qualified to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in 1984.

By Nancy Smeltzer
Lifestyle Editor

When John Stephens stepped off the plane in Washington, D.C., Saturday, he arrived not only as a regional spelling bee champion, but a one-man Chamber of Commerce for his hometown.

John arrived in the nation's capitol with 150 packets of information about Marshall, ranging from the new East Texas magazine to a welcome letter from Mayor Lane Strahan and a small clay pot from Marshall Pottery.

The Marshall Junior High School student is in Washington to compete in the National Spelling Bee Wednesday and Thursday, but before he shows his prowess with words, he will introduce the 150 contestants to Marshall.

The packet was an idea that grew from John's interest in distributing his Spelling Bee Lines, a newsletter for spelling bee aficionados, and his cartoon strip, Prep, featuring Skip Swamp, to his fellow competitors. But as John said, he needed a package for his gift.

Patti Harris at the Chamber of Commerce agreed to provide the "Marshall Loves Company" litter bags, so John and his mother went one step farther and filled them with other bits of information about the city.

John, who will be representing the Dallas Morning News, has been working on his goal to compete in the national finals for two years. He carries his spelling bee "Bible," a notebook containing about 750 pages of spelling words, ranging from the unpronounceable to the just plain weird. John admitted many of the words would rarely crop up in casual conversation, but in a spelling bee, anything goes...or anything contained in Webster's Third New International Dictionary.

John's "Bible" contains words which date back to the national spelling bee finals in 1957. "Even though you've got them, you have to learn them," Mrs. Stephens said.

Since May 18, John's last day of school, he has spent about eight hours each day studying. His mother and brother, Steve, pronounce words for John to spell, but he often continues late into the night brushing up on words he has missed through the day. His father, Harry, supplied him with a list of food words to work with.

Friends and fellow spellers from throughout the country have supplied John with tips on how to succeed at the bee. John knows that after the third round, the words will no longer come strictly from word lists. He's banking on getting some little known word, something like "rijsttafel," an Indonesian food, or "triskaidekaphile," lover of the number 13.

Such spelling prowess is bound to intimidate a few of his competitors, John said. He's familiar with the technique, and knows that his fellow spellers in the county were equally dismayed when they learned he would be competing against them last spring.

But John won't be stepping into the limelight alone. John will sport the latest in Skip Swamp wear, a knit shirt and slacks bearing a monogram of Skip. John said he has no plans to market a line of clothing, but the opportunity to introduce Skip to the world wasn't one to be passed up.

The Stephenses were in rare form Tuesday as they joked about the prospect and pondered the "what if" questions about the future. John predicted success and claimed he already spent $500 of the $1,000 top prize -- half of it will go toward a computer and the other half toward a subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

Mrs. Stephens said the jokes and levity were just one of their family's ways of easing any pressure. Living with spelling words for almost two years can take a toll on anyone: the Stephenses are no exception.

If anyone has put the competition into perspective for the family, Mrs. Stephens said it came from hometown celebrity Bill Moyers. He sent John a note from the Bahamas recently, she said. Its message will remembered long after the bee is over, she added.

"Win or lose, you've brought honor to yourself, your family and your home town."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mimi Gray Recaptures A Bit Of Her Homeland

This article appeared in the Marshall News Messenger on March 5, 1984. It features the story of Mrs. Mimi Gray, a native of France who formed the Les Alouettes Club at William B. Travis Elementary.

By Cindy Edwards
Staff Writer

Parlez-vous Francais? Non, mais Mimi Gray parle Francais.

The preceding statement, asking if "you speak French," is answered with the phrase "no, but Mimi Gray does."

And, she does exactly that with more than 60 students in Marshall public schools.

The Verdun, France native had always wanted the challenge of taching French to children.

Three years ago, it became a reality when she was able to form Les Alouettes French Club at William B. Travis Elementary School.

"I'd been with the school district eight years," Mrs. Gray recalled. ""I'm comfortable with the both my French and English and wanted to try my native language out in the classroom."

Mrs. Gray's club, which is for selected students during lunch, is fun but also very much a learning experience.

"From the time they get into the room until the time they leave, we're speaking French," she said. "I eat with them for 30 minutes, then we have 30 minutes in the classroom."

Mrs. Gray has three methods of teaching: textbook study, command-action drills and conversation.

The mother of Jon and Gary Gray said the textbook method teaches the children vocabulary related to family, house, school and stores, as well as verbs. The command-action method requires the students to take commands in French and act without speaking English.

Mrs. Gray said the conversation method is where the teacher addresses the class in French. "They enjoy this because it is everyday conversation," she said.

Dot Lattimore encouraged Mrs. Gray to begin the French Club three years ago. "I was worried the kids would lose interest in it," Mrs. Gray said. But, the club has stimulated interest in both Travis and Carver schools. "It helps them (students) attend school regularly. They love it and don't want to miss a day."

Mrs. Gray said the younger children accept the club as a "good treat" and they really learn from it. "They don't want to leave."

Students involved with the club "will come to me instead of going out on the playground," Mrs. Gray said. "I hear them speaking French to each other and it makes me happy."

Mrs. Gray moved to the United States in 1955. She had taken German as a second language in high school, merely because English was not offered.

"I knew enough English to communicate," Mrs. Gray said. However, she said it was "far from being correct."

Mrs. Gray said she would read and talk and listen to friends to try to pick up the language but television was one of her best teachers.

"It took me three years to really feel comfortable. Then, I did not say one French word for seven years," Mrs. Gray said. Now, she practices both languages and feels comfortable with both.

Mrs. Gray has a special feeling for French. "I don't know what it is, but I love the language."

Friday, August 12, 2016

New Coach Excited About Mavericks

This article from the Jan. 22, 1984 edition of the Marshall News Messenger is an interview with new Maverick head football coach, Dennis Parker.

by Mike Keeney
Sports Editor

After being named head coach of the Marshall Mavericks Friday, Dennis Parker was one happy person.

"I'm tickled to death and excited. I just thank God for this chance," Parker said from San Antonio in a telephone interview with the News Messenger.

The 33-year old Parker, who was offensive coordinator and assistant head coach for Class AAAAA state champion Converse Judson, said he hopes to get to work in Marshall as quickly as possible.

"I want to get up there as soon as I can and get going," Parker said. "I haven't talked to Jack (Gray, athletic director) yet, but I'm ready to get going."

When asked why he left Judson to take the Marshall job, Parker was quick to answer.

"To be honest, I really think we've done all we could at Judson. I feel like its time to go. I really do believe you can win a state championship in Marshall. There is enough talent there, and that's what you have to have. I'm not going to say when, but I think it can happen. You can't win without talent, but you can lose with it," Parker said.

Parker said the first few days in Marshall would be devoted to meeting with the coaches and players and letting them know what's expected of them.

"We'll spend the first three days in orientation. We want the players to understand our rules and expectations of them. We'll have a commitment meeting with the players and have them make a commitment to our program. We'll let the know what's going to happen to them every day of the week. They'll know what they'll be doing on April 6 for example before the sixth arrives."

Parker, who believes in a strong offseason program, hopes to let the Mavericks realize they must work year 'round to be winners.

"We want to encourage the kids to work on their own during the summer, but they'll know more about that when I get up there. It's kind of hard to say anything right now before I've met any of the kids...But, the entire program will be told to them. There won't be any surprises. If they want to join us, fine; if not, that's fine also."

The Southeastern Oklahoma graduate said he believes three things go into making a winner.

"Number one, you've to have kids with character. Good, solid kids who are well brought up. Second, you need team speed so you can run and third, you've got to be able to coach. You've got to allow the kids to be successful, and I feel we can do that in Marshall," Parker said.

Known for his offensive skills, Parker said his offense is simple. He uses the I formation as the base and goes from there.

"Our offense is really very basic. We start with the 'I' and and from there we go to several different sets. I also believe to win at the 5A level you must pass the ball. By no means will we be the San Diego Chargers, but we'll keep things exciting. Last year at Judson we averaged 18 passes and 51 rushes a game, so you can tell we emphasize the run quite a bit."

When told the Mavericks return a quarterback (Ricky DeFreeze) who started as a sophomore, Parker was intrigued.

"That's great," Parker said.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Smith Named School Superintendent

This article is the announcement of Ms. Pat Smith as Superintendent of Schools in Marshall ISD, as it appeared in the Sept. 13, 1983 edition of the Marshall News Messenger.

By Richard Fluker and Diane Hughes
Marshall News Messenger

The Marshall school board Monday named Pat Smith as the district's next Superintendent of Schools. Miss Smith is currently Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Special Programs.

Miss Smith, who has worked for the Marshall school system 21 years, will succeed Truitt Ingram when he retires June 30, 1984.

"I appreciate the confidence the board has in me and I pledge total commitment to carrying out the goals and objectives of the school district," she said.

As the local school district's first woman superintendent, she will join a handful of about five or six women school superintendents in Texas, she said.

Miss Smith was the only candidate interviewed for the position, according to board president Louis Williams. Her contract will run three years.

The board spent several work sessions developing a profile for Ingram's successor, according to Williams. "It became quite apparent to the board that we have a person within the system who has demonstrated excellent leadership, has several years of administrative experience and has been at the very heart of our curriculum emphasis for the past five years," he said, reading from a prepared statement.

Williams described Miss Smith as a "Capable, competent and dedicated school administrator," experienced in educational planning and budgeting.

The assistant superintendent will work with Ingram this year to ensure an orderly transition, he said.

Miss Smith said. she considers her promotion "a real challenge." She has much to learn, she said, and "I am grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Mr. Ingram, whom I consider to be a master superintendent."

She believes concepts of basic skills, such as reading, mathematics and writing, are sometimes too limited and should be expanded. In reading, for example, "we want kids to comprehend, but we also want them to learn to think and make rational decisions," she said.

Miss Smith says her educational philosophy is that the child must come first, receiving training in skills to meet his or her needs for a happy and successful life. She believes that attention must be given to all phases of life and that a school is the reflection of the community.

"Education cannot be limited to classroom learning alone but must also include training which will build worthy, healthy citizens with a strong commitment to preserving and strengthening the American way of life," she said. "Accomplishing these goals requires a school which provides academic training as well as co-curricular activities to complement the other phases of growth."

Miss Smith has 27 years of experience in education, 12 as a teacher in grades 6-12. She joined MISD in 1962 as a Social Studies teacher at Marshall High School.

For three years she served Coordinator of Instructional Materials and Social Studies. She spent three years as Director of Secondary Education/Public Relations and four years as Director of Instructional Services/Public Relations.

She was promoted to Assistant Superintendent in 1978.

Miss Smith graduated from Ouachita Baptist University of Arkansas with a Bachelor or Arts degree in History and Sociology. She earned her Master of Education degree from the University of Arkansas, with a major in School Administration.

She has a supervisor's certificate from East Texas State University and an administrator's certificate from Stephen F. Austin University.

Miss Smith has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors. She was named Teacher of the Year at Marshall High School and West Memphis (Ark.) ISD. She was elected to Who's Who in American Education, Who's Who Among Students in College and Universities and Outstanding Young Women of America.

She is the recipient of a Freedom's Foundation Award and the Marshall Business and Professional Women's Association's Woman of Achievement Award. She was awarded a life membership in the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers.

The MHS annual, "The Maverick," was dedicated to her in her last year as a teacher at the school.

Miss Smith serves on the boards of directors of Marshall Symphony Society and the Marshall Cultural Affairs Council. She is a former member of the boards of the Marshall Council of Camp Fire, Harrison County United Way and Friends of the Marshall Public Library.

She is a member and past president of the Pilot Club of Marshall. She attends First Baptist Church of Marshall.

Professional organizations of which she is a member are American Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Delta Kappa Gamma, Phi Delta Kappa and the Association of Texas Professional Educators.

She is a member and past president of East Texas School Women and Alpha Delta Kappa. She serves on the board of directors of Marshall City Council PTA.

Friday, August 5, 2016

High School Principal Has Tougher Night Job

This article from the Sept. 2, 1983 edition of the Marshall News Messenger features the work of then-MHS assistant principal, Mr. James Hodges, as a high school football official.

by David Travis
Sports Writer

The definition of a moonlighter is defined in Webster's as a person with two jobs: one in the day and one at night.

James Hodges isn't your average moonlighter, although he works two different jobs.

Hodges' day job is that of assistant principal at Marshall High School, while during Fridays and Saturdays in the fall he is a football official.

"I've officiated high school and college football games for 15 years," said the 55-year old official.

"I've always had a good time with the players on the field and with coaches on the sideline. It's always fun when I'm out there calling a game."

Hodges said his officiating helps him with his daily chores as an assistant principal.

"I have learned a lot from being an official," Hodges said. "It has taught me how to be fair and firm with people. It has also taught me how to be impartial."

An official has be in good condition at the beginning of the high school and college football season. Hodges keeps himself in shape during the summer by running two miles every day on the Mavericks track.

"You've got to keep yourself in good shape," Hodges said. "The official has to be on his toes at all times."

Hodges started his officiating career when he grew weary of his coaching duties at Karnack High School in 1964.

"I started coaching at Karnack in 1958," Hodges said. "I was the only coach there and I did everything by myself. After I left Karnack, I started to miss the game of football. So I decided to become an official and call high school games."

Hodges didn't got to an official's school were he could learn about the rules and regulations of football. "I was a coach for 12 years," Hodges said. "With all my coaching experience, I knew every possible football rule."

Hodges started with junior varsity games before moving into the college ranks in 1968. "My first college game was Jackson State and Alcorn," Hodges said.

"I wasn't nervous during the game, but at halftime my commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference balled me out because of my performance on the field."

Hodges said the brief conversation with the commissioner helped rejuvenate him into doing a better job of officiating at other ball games.

"I will always do my best on the field," Hodges said. "I don't lean to any side. I call a game the best way I can."

Through the years, Hodges has seen many college players make the transition toward professional football.

"I've seen a lot of players come from the black college ranks and become stars in the NFL," Hodges said.

"I've watched Sammy White, Doug Williams, Trumane Johnson in action at Grambling. I've also talked with Ed 'Too Tall' Jones and watched him develop at Tennessee State."

Hodges has also traveled outside the state of Texas to call important games. "I've been to Los Angeles, Nashville and South Carolina," he said. "I've also officiated games in the Astrodome in Houston, the Superdome in New Orleans and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas."

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Huesing Has Traveled The World For Soccer

This article highlights the inaugural season of Marshall High School's first soccer team during the 1983 season, as well as the program's first coach, Alan Huesing -- who incidentally is teaching again in MISD during the 2016-2017 school year as a Math teacher at Marshall High School. The article appeared in the Jan. 5, 1983 edition of the Marshall News Messenger.

By Mike Keeney
Sports Editor

First-year Marshall soccer coach Alan Huesing is no stranger to the game of soccer, as a matter of fact he's traveled the world to coach and play the game.

A 1977 graduate of East Texas Baptist College, Huesing spent the last four years in Taiwan and the Philippines coaching and playing the game. Only the chance to return to Marshall and coach Marshall High's first-ever soccer team could lure him away from the Orient, but that was alright with him.

"It's kind of like coming home," Huesing said when asked what he thought about his new job.

Huesing called his time overseas as a "learning" experience he'll never forget. He served as a player-coach in both countries and learned about the people through soccer.

Marshall Athletic Director Jack Gray said he was glad to have a coach of Huesing's qualities to lead the first-year program.

"We are very fortunate to have a person of his (Huesing's) caliber as a coach. It's always more difficult at the beginning of any program, but I think Alan's background and expertise has been a big benefit to us," Gray said.

The ETBC graduate said he got interested in soccer when he was in high school in Dallas, and he hasn't lost any interest yet.

"When I was growing up in Dallas a Swedish guy at my high school wanted to teach soccer. Soccer was growing at that time in Dallas and I developed a personal interest in the game which I still have," Huesing said.

His interest has carried over to the 22 players who will make up Marshall High's first soccer team in the history of the school.

Though he is stepping into a new program, Huesing said the training his players have developed through the Marshall Youth Soccer Association has been a big help.

"We need a lot of work on fundamentals, but the MYSA has trained these kids in the rules of the game which really helps. Marshall is a soccer city. I'm glad the MYSA has a next step now. The experience the players have from the MYSA has definitively been a plus for us.

"We'd be way behind without it. The guys aren't strangers to the game and through the MYSA they've competed against people who they will be playing during the season so they know their opponents somewhat," Huesing said.

Some might think bringing a new program into an already active athletic department might cause some problems by taking athletes out of one sport and putting them in soccer, but Huesing said nothing could be further from the truth.

"You've got to remember, we've opened athletics up to a whole different area of students. We are not drawing from other sports," he said.

And Huesing believes the soccer program will be good for the athletic department as a whole.

"Soccer will be good for the athletic department. It will open athletics up to those who weren't able to compete before. We want to have a lot of participation," Huesing said.

Though he does not foresee a state championship or maybe even a district championship in the sport's first year of existence at MHS, Huesing said the team will be ready to play every game, and give it their best shot.

"We'll give it all we got every game," Huesing said.

What more could you ask for?