I have lived in Scottsboro all of my life. My mother lived in the house on Market Street where I grew up with my sister Nancy Sisk Gilliam until my mother passed away at home on December 4, 2012 just after her 91st birthday. My daddy owned Tom's Cafe located on the square where one of my former students, Will Parks, has his law office. My sister and I grew up working in the cafe and always felt lucky if we received a tip of 25 cents. In 1976 Daddy sold the cafe. Although he retired from business, he never stopped working. He planted a garden every year, mowed the grass, and did odd jobs around the house. He also enjoyed watching westerns and napping in his favorite chair. In May 1999, Daddy, age 86, died of lung cancer and the house that was always full of laughter and jokes, fell silent.
Having both parents gone is a strange feeling. I miss them both so much. I realize now that Mama took on a lot of the grief when Daddy died and from the sorrow Nancy and I have experienced since Mama died, I know she protected us. I have always considered myself to be strong, but coping with her sudden illness and death has been very hard. I am thankful for my school family who helped to keep me going.
I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher. When I was 12, Mrs. Sue Hollis asked me to help her teach Red Cross Swimming lessons, and I have been teaching ever since. I know that I am so blessed to have a job that I love so much. If you really love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.
I graduated from Jacksonville State University in 1971, and Dr. Nelson, the superintendent, gave me a job teaching 6th grade and coaching the cheerleaders. Mrs. Amos and Mrs. Barfoot were on my very first cheerleading squad. By the way, both were excellent students and a great cheerleaders. I coached the cheerleaders for 25 years and nine of my squads competed nationally. In 1985 the Scottsboro High School Cheerleaders were ranked 2nd in the Nation. Mrs. Frances Gay Coleman was a cheerleader on that squad.
In 1972-1974, I moved to 8th grade English and Mrs. Gilliam taught right beside me. We had a great time teaching together. However, in 1975, I decided to move to the high school to 11th grade English. I don't anticipate moving from this position. I have completed 41 wonderful years as a teacher, and I am looking forward to many more.
Besides beginning my teaching career in 1971, I also married John Esslinger. We met at Jacksonville, and I said that I would marry him if he would live in Scottsboro. We have 2 children. Rob is 39 and lives in Elkmont, Alabama where he has about 50 acres, a great barn for horses, and 6 horses. Although he has a 45 minute drive to the arsenal where he is a mechanical engineer for Redstone, he is close to the places where he plays polo and fox hunts. I am particularlly fond of his hobby because the sport is so dangerous. He has broken his elbow twice! I am happy that he has a hobby that brings him so much joy. Rob ran cross country for his dad and was on the first team to win a state championship. He also ran at UAH.
Tom is 33. He attended the University of South Alabama in Mobile on a track/academic scholarship and graduated with honors with a degree in Political Science. He finished a year at Cumberland School of Law, but after coaching part time at Mt. Brook decided to go back to school to become a coach and a teacher. Tom teaches history at Homewood High School and is the head varsity track coach. He has also coached cross country and basketball. He married Amanda Webb in December 2005. Amanda ran track for Coach Esslinger and was one of my students. She decided in my class that she wanted to be an English teacher, and she taught 10th grade English at Homewood for 5 years before she became the assistant principal.
Coach and I have two precious grandchildren, John Thomas Esslinger, who was 5 in October and William Keith Esslinger who was 2 in October. We love spending time with the boys.
Summer has flown by and as usual I did not accomplish all I wanted but Coach and I did enjoy some quality time with the boys. I look forward to getting back into a routine but will miss some of the lazy days of summer. I do love school and I hope that I can make you love it too.
I hope you will give your best in each class. Coach Cooley, a famous basketball coach from Pisgah who also had a great tenure in Scottsboro always gave this advice: FINISH WELL. He was a man of great wisdom. Say his words often and follow his advice.
My home email address is email@example.com I would love to hear from you. My address at school is firstname.lastname@example.org
School phone: 256 218-2068 Cell phone: 256 599-8033
I will leave you with this quote: Give your best and the best will come back to you. I am not sure who said it, but I have found great truth in the words. I know you will too.
I would love to hear from you. Just shoot me an email. I am also on facebook.
See you soon.