Longtime educator learns from teaching first-graders

Published 12:00 pm Monday, February 1, 2016

A teacher at Coffeeville High School inspired Fannie Smith, 60, to go into the field of education.

“I had a very special teacher who was named Mrs. Lucille Fox,” Smith said Saturday, while standing with a group of church members conducting a yard sale off Highway 30 in Lafayette County.

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“She always used to work with students one-on-one to make sure you got what you needed. I guess growing up and seeing her, made me want to be a teacher.”

After high school, Smith attended Northwest Mississippi Junior College, the University of Mississippi and Rust College to obtain her education degree.

“I’ve been in education for 30 years,” she said. “I teach first grade at the primary school in Holly Springs. It is a great grade to teach.”

The Oakland native said some of her earliest memories involve spending time with family when they would gather and reminisce about the past.

“We would get together and just talk, play checkers,” she said. “The guys would play basketball, and we would just kind of talk about different things with the girls.”

Smith said her grandmother was her most influential family member.

“She was always telling us about values, and to stand with what you say, to be truthful, and to be as good as your word,” Smith said, “so I think she was the one who gave us the strength to be strong, to be workers and doers.”

Smith attended Oakland Junior High before the family moved to Coffeeville and she enrolled in Coffeeville High School.

Today, she enjoys teaching first-graders.

“I learn from them too,” she said. “I guess (I enjoy) their excitement of life and learning. When you look at them, you see their little eyes light up and how excited they are about what they are learning.”

Smith said they make her more enthusiastic about teaching.

“The main thing I try to do with them is tell them they can be whatever they want to be,” she said. “I always tell them that you can do it. It’s within you to do it.

“Don’t doubt yourself. Believe that you have the ability to do what you want to do. If it comes to you that you want to advance into something, you can do it.”

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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