Dora Spiva visits Truett-McConnell College

March 20, 2008 - Truett-McConnell College hosts luncheon for Dora Spiva

Truett-McConnell College and White County Intermediate School recently welcomed Mrs. Dora Spiva to their classrooms. One of Blairsville's most respected citizens, Mrs. Spiva is a retired educator who started teaching in 1927. During her 40 year career as teacher and principle, Mrs. Spiva made lasting impressions on her students.

Now retired for over 40 years, she is still making lasting impressions on young people. At White County Intermediate School , Principle Shann Cash introduced Mrs. Spiva to Student Intern George Porter, teacher Linda Byrd, and their 4 th grade students. The children were prepared with interesting questions.

"What were your favorite subjects to teach?" asked one student. Mrs. Spiva answered, "Mathematics and Latin. Latin may be a dead language but we taught it back then." Another student asked, "Why did you teach so long?" Mrs. Spiva explained, "I loved the students. I never had anybody I didn't like. To see how my students faced the world when they graduated - that made things worthwhile."

Hands waved in the air as well-behaved 4th grade students thought of more things to ask. Children were called on one at a time. "Mrs. Spiva, will you tell us how things were different back then?"

Mrs. Dora was glad to tell about the old days in Blairsville, Georgia. "We walked everywhere. It was either walk or saddle up the horse. I usually walked two miles to get to school. Occasionally I would get up on that old horse and away I'd go. We didn't have any cars. Another difference is that I didn't have to teach children that spoke a different language. All of my students spoke English as their first language."

School punishment was a hot topic, "Mrs. Spiva, did you whip your students?" asked one little boy. Her answer was surprising, "No. I never did whip a child because I didn't believe in it. My students were pretty obedient although children will be children. I had a problem with one student one time but I don't need to tell you about that!"

Everyone listened intently as Mrs. Spiva talked about teaching. "I planned on being a teacher all of my life. I knew it was what I wanted to do. I didn't have a desk for many years - just a long bench. We wrote on slate boards with chalk and used an eraser. If we lost the eraser we used our handkerchiefs."

She continued, "I want all of you to study and learn all you can. You need to listen to your teachers and do what they say. They won't lead you wrong." Mrs. Spiva also had advice for the teachers, "I want the teachers to listen to their students. Show them some love and there won't be as many discipline problems. I loved my students and they made out that they loved me, too. I believe that they really did."

Students also wanted to know about life in the old days. Dora told about her life as a child. "We had to be careful with money. A dollar was a whole lot when I was growing up on a farm. We were poor but didn't know it because we had plenty to eat and clothes to wear. We studied at night by firelight or kerosene lamp. In the 30's electricity came to Union County . It was a very good day when that happened. My brother had the first car in Union County . It was a Dodge."

As Dora Spiva's visit to White County Intermediate School was drawing to a close, one of the faculty members said it all, "We have made history here today having this incredible lady with us." Another teacher added, "It is one of the highlights of my career to have Miss Dora visit my room."

White County Intermediate School has approximately 650 students in grades 3 through 5. Principle Shann Cash also teaches "Foundations of Education" at Truett-McConnell College. Student Intern (Pre-Service Teacher) George Porter is a senior at Truett-McConnell doing his internship at the Intermediate School . He says, "I love working with kids. I figure with teaching, God can use me in many different situations. It was fun having Mrs. Spiva here. Her fascinating stories are an inspiration."

Next was a visit to the Education Department of Truitt McConnell College. Interim President Mike Simoneaux, Advancement Representative Dewitt Cox, and Head of the Education Department Susan Gannaway welcomed Mrs. Spiva to Truett-McConnell College .

College juniors enrolled in the education program were excited to meet with Mrs. Dora Spiva. They had done their homework and prepared a bulletin board documenting Mrs. Spiva's 40 year career in education. Dora spent a few moments reading the articles and news clippings, then moved on to the next display. "I am impressed with these letters," said Mrs. Spiva. "These young people write really well."

Stacy Dyer, Pastor of Harmony Grove Baptist Church in Blairsville , Georgia , accompanied Mrs. Spiva to White County and was asked to say the blessing before lunch. Everyone enjoyed delicious food and good conversation. Mrs. Spiva sat with students and entertained them with antidotes about teaching. Everyone got a good laugh when Mrs. Spiva was presented with a large chocolate apple (worm and all). She said, "I'm too full to eat it now, and maybe if I wait that old worm will leave."

After a delicious meal, Truett-McConnell Education Department faculty member Dr. Angie Gant gave a short presentation about the Education Program. Mrs. Spiva listened intently as Gant explained the meaning behind some special words, "Accomplished teachers as servant leaders." She read from Ephesians 4:1, "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Bible scripture is not uncommon at Truett-McConnell College . As a Southern Baptist college, the official mission statement is inspiring, "Our mission is to equip students to make a positive impact for Christ through disciplined scholarship and Christian Discipleship."

Mrs. Dora Spiva has made an impact on many people including the students and faculty of Truett-McConnell College and White County Intermediate School . She continues to amaze her many friends, acquaintances, and former students. At 103 years of age, she is a spirited and intelligent woman with sparkling eyes and a clear voice. Mrs. Dora Spiva may be a retired teacher, but she continues to teach everyone she comes in contact with. Thank you, Mrs. Spiva, for being such an inspiration to young and old alike.

The Truett-McConnell College campus is situated on 200 acres, located one mile east of the town square in Cleveland , Georgia . After more than half a century as a two-year college, in December 2002 the institution was approved by its accrediting agency to offer four-year degrees.

The college operates on the belief that academic disciplines in the liberal arts can be taught within the context of the Christian faith in order to provide young people with a high quality education which emphasizes what matters most-principles, ideals, ethics, morals, and values.

Truett-McConnell College is accredited by The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award both bachelor's degrees and associate's degrees. The institution's music program is also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.