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Effie Glassco ~ Master Teacher
by Walter Redden



    Mrs. Effie Glassco was a mean, lean, but very bright high school senior English teacher at Cleveland (Mississippi) High School back in the “old days.” As a teaching technique, she employed intense questioning of her students, and rarely did a student dare to come into her classroom unprepared. Her students were a captive audience, and Effie Glassco took educational advantage.

    She made an example of me in February, late 40s. The cold rain was pounding on the window near my desk. I was probably watching the rain. In akimbo stance right in front of me, Mrs. Glassco said, “You are NOT paying attention!”

    We were in senior English, British Literature time, and she challenged me to repeat a poem on the lesson page. She glared at me and said, “If you cannot repeat a poem on the lesson page, I will give you an ‘F’.”

    After I got my breath, I asked, “If I can repeat a poem, will you give me an ‘A’?” I had learned the poem “To Althea from Prison,” and I quoted it. She was infuriated!

    She didn’t move and she didn’t comment. She turned and walked to her center stage at the front of the classroom and continued as if nothing had happened.

    Six weeks later I had a ‘D’ on my report card. In spite of her stern manner, Effie Glassco was the best English teacher I ever had . . . but she was NOT to be challenged.

    After a stint in the military and several semesters of college under my belt, I was flattered that Effie Glassco would recommend me for a job teaching in her department at Cleveland High. From that point on we were the closest of friends and she became my professional tutor. (I must add that Mrs. Glassco and my mother were good friends dating back to World War II days when they were students at M.S.C.W. – now MUW.)

    Following summer school, 1956, Mrs. Glassco invited me to join her on a trip to Los Angeles. What an eye-opener for me!

    I had heard of “Pinky” and “Blue Boy” but had no idea the originals were hanging in the Huntington Library, hidden in the beautiful village of San Mario, California, a close suburb of Pasadena. Viewing this art was like seeing the eighth wonder of the world. In my imagination, I thought the originals must be as large as a movie screen. Was I ever wrong!

    A small leather bench was in front of the two world famous art pieces. A small dim light focused on them. I sat in a daze. These originals were no larger than some of the cheap paper reproductions. What a surprise.

    Also on display was the handwritten poem “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe.

    Mrs. Glassco got permission to visit the “stacks”—an overwhelming experience for me. In fact, this initial experience in a world class museum still lingers in my memory.

    Again, thank you, Lord, for teachers like Mrs. Effie Glassco who expose their students to the wonders of this world through literature and art. Their names will be forever blessed.

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    Walter Redden is a native of Pace, Mississippi, in the Delta. He retired from the textbook business and resides in Jackson, Mississippi, where he’s active in church and community activities. He’s a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.


    Read Charles East's story about Effie Glassco: Effie in her domain

    And here are more stories at USADS from Walter Redden:
    Good Day for Swimming
    Remember Who You Are
    Alexandria Made Her Point

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