By Ralphine Major
For decades, she was the beloved first-grade teacher at Gibbs Elementary School. I was in her class during the 1960-61 school year. She even taught our father’s first-grade class years earlier. As a first grader, I was too young to realize her ties to the Gibbs Community. Neva Gibbs Cardwell taught first grade at Gibbs a total of 47 years! Gibbs High School was named for her father, O. S. Gibbs, who played a huge role in getting the high school built. Neva was in the first graduating class at Gibbs High School.
Nearly every time we drove up Emory Road, we passed by her house. It was the light blue one on a hill just before Harbison’s Crossroads. When my brother, Wayne, and I were children, we would stop by the Cardwell home every Halloween. Mrs. Cardwell always handed out a little white bag of popcorn to trick-or-treaters. She once asked us, “Don’t you wish someone would give you a sweet pickle?” Her husband was a brother to Ross Cardwell, the longtime principal at Corryton Elementary. His daughters, twins Lue and Sue, taught at Gibbs Elementary. I was fortunate to have another Cardwell for a teacher during my school days. Sue was my fourth grade teacher, and Lue was Wayne’s fourth grade teacher.
As schools are starting once again across our country, may they be a safe place for students to learn, cultivate friendships, and create memories that they can reflect on for years to come. Though Mrs. Cardwell passed away many years ago and her house has since been demolished, seldom does a school year start but what I often think of her and the impact she had on so many children in the community. Sometimes, I can almost see the blue house on a hill when I drive on Emory Road. Have a great school year!
Mark your calendar for the Thunder Road Authors Rally on Saturday, September 8, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Maynardville Public Library, 296 Main Street, Maynardville, TN 37807, 865-992-7106. Hope to see you there!!