Memories of a Georgia Teacher: Fifty Years in the Classroom
University of Georgia Press, 2002 - 297 pages
Memories of a Georgia Teacher chronicles the personal and professional life of a principled, resourceful, and deeply religious woman whose career began at a time when state support for primary education was all but nonexistent. Martha Mizell started teaching in 1913 in a one-room, one-teacher school near the Okefenokee Swamp in southeast Georgia. At the time she was barely fifteen, and her formal schooling amounted to seven years.
While Puckett offers a valuable perspective on schooling in the twentieth-century rural South, she also captures the essence of daily life in the communities in which she taught. We read of how she sometimes boarded with parents of her pupils, of how teachers, students, and parents joined together in observance of holidays, of the rituals of school openings and closings, and of how schooling managed to continue through the busy growing seasons. Personal details of Puckett's life also emerge, from her relationship with her parents to life at home with her husband and their eight children.
Martha Mizell Puckett's career paralleled the transformation of small, informal community school systems into consolidated, government supported, bureaucratic structures. Through Puckett's eyes our own are opened--to hard times, certainly, but also to a time of notable closeness and involvement between schools and their communities.
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This fascinating book gives the reader a real slice of life from rural Georgia during the period when the school was the center of society and culture and the one-room school teacher was an important community leader. The reader will be richly rewarded.
My sister handed me this book and told me she had found a part of our past. While reading, low and behold, I learned about my mother's family in Screven, Georgia and how their paths had crossed Ms. Puckett's. I was amazed how the celebrations of harvests, planting, teaching etc. had followed through to even when I was a young child. This is a must read for those interested in South Georgia life. I give it an A+.
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