By Ralphine Major
She may have been best known as a fourth grade teacher at Gibbs Elementary School. I knew who she was because our father had her as a teacher. Brunetta Sharp graduated from Gibbs High School and The University of Tennessee and enjoyed a long career at Gibbs Elementary. Teaching was her life! I can remember seeing her at recess putting on a ballcap and playing kick ball with her students. She was never my teacher, but she was our neighbor—and a good neighbor she was. Sometimes she would bring greeting cards and gifts addressed to “Major 4” before our father passed away, or a book of stamps, or a plate of fresh-baked cookies. Our mother often gave her and her brother, Tom, a large piece of cake only to learn that the teacher stopped and shared it with others on the way home.
Miss Brunetta lived in the house where she grew up. It was a picturesque setting surrounded by rolling hills and towering trees. One fall, I used a whole roll of film taking pictures of their home nestled among the beautiful, colored leaves and framed them for her. A step inside the house was like stepping back in time. Across the road from her lived second grade teacher Avis Sharp. Miss Brunetta could often be seen driving her big, blue Buick along our rural roads and picking up litter. When someone in the community passed away, she would canvass the neighborhood collecting money for flowers. I loved her spirit and enthusiasm for life. On Sunday, she would be dressed for church. I was always intrigued by her sense of fashion and often thought she looked like a model as she made her way to a church pew. Before the service, Brunetta would often bring a bouquet of flowers from her garden for the church sanctuary. When we first moved to the neighborhood, Miss Brunetta sometimes visited for hours at a time, telling stories of past years. She was a walking history book and a wealth of information.
Though she retired in the sixties and passed away several years ago, the teacher will surely be remembered for many years to come. Miss Brunetta touched the lives of so many—one student at a time.