Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Teaching: The Music of Marceline's Heart


My great aunt Marceline Jeanne` Cheatham Thomas was an excellent educator and fabulous person. She had a heart for young people and showed it throughout her life.
Born in St. Louis, MO in 1929, Marceline was the middle child of her five siblings. She was educated and taught in the St. Louis Public Schools. Her teaching career began at Benton Elementary School on Kingshighway in the early 1950s.  Now she was just not a regular run of the mill teacher, but extraordinary. What made her extraordinary? She was no non-sense, did not smile that often, very professional, stern, and had very high standards for her students and herself. She was all business in the classroom and took educating her eighth grade students very seriously. She absolutely loved all of her students and her coworkers. She not only taught eighth grade at Benton, but also at Hickey Elementary school. Moreover, Marceline was also deeply involved in her church, St. Peters A.M.E church on Shreve and Margaretta in St. Louis, MO. She was the Director of the Youth Chorale, a member of the Steward Board, and Secretary to the Quarterly Conference. In addition to all this, she served as an usher, Sunday School Superintendent, Sunday School Teacher, and Church Secretary. Marceline was serious about  God, church, family, and the education of her students.
Even though Marceline was serious about what she did, she did take time out to enjoy life. She loved sports and was a season ticket holder for the St. Louis Rams football team. She also played volleyball.  In the 70s, Marceline was one of the chorus singers in the stage production of Purlie Victorious by Ossie Davis in St. Louis, MO. Not only was she dedicated  in all she did, but she was a very talented lady.
Following is a cherished memory of her niece, Cathleen Allen Johnson, about her dear aunt.
My aunt was beautiful, intelligent, no non-sense, and an educator extraordinaire! My brother and I would love it when we would be walking home to Greer from Simmons and Turner Middle and Auntie Marceline would be cruising down the street in her red convertible and pick us up. Boy, we thought we were somebody! I remember how beautiful my mom and her sisters looked on Sunday mornings for church. They were dressed to the nines with their big legs and hour glass figures. They always wore the latest fashions. My freshman year in high school Auntie Marceline gave me her Spiegel Catalog and told me I could pick out $200.00 worth of clothes. Boy, I wore that catalog out. You talking about mixing and matching stuff! When those boxes came, well it was like Christmas in August. I still remember one of the outfits- grey wool box pleated skirt, with a matching short red jacket with gold military buttons. The collar and down the front of the jacket was trimmed in gray. I even had red flats. Boy, I was clean!!!

She passed in 1983, but her legacy of love for educating children lives on through the lives of her nieces, nephews, and students. Teaching and being an inspiration to young people was the goal of Marceline’s life. I would say that she accomplished that goal to the highest.

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