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MABEL HOOPER - MORE THAN A TEACHER
By Marshall McClung
Mabel Hooper taught school in the Graham County School for forty years, from 1942-1982. Her entire teaching career was spent in Graham County teaching the sixth grade. But she was more than a teacher in that she instilled in her students a desire to live right in addition to learning. She encouraged her students to read and study the Bible and memorize and recite Bible verses.
At first Mabel did not intend to go to college and become a teacher. She recalled that in her senior year in high school that officials from Western Carolina College (now Western Carolina University) came to Robbinsville and were passing out magazines and other literature to the seniors. Mabel told them she did not need any literature as she did not plan to attend college. That fall however she enrolled at Western. Mabel credits Leone Hyde with being an inspiration for her to attend college. Mabel earned her B.S. in 1942 and her Masters in 1959.
One of the things that most of Mabel!s former sixth graders recall is the Literary Society program. Sixth grade classes would meet together in one classroom and put on a program consisting of a play or skit or some other type program. This got students accustomed to speaking in front of an audience and helped get them over "stage fright." This in turn gave students more confidence in themselves. As Mabel stated it was excellent language arts teaching.
In addition to her teaching career, Mabel has always been very active in church and church related work. Mabel would spend time with students before class began at school helping them with their "sword drills" which consisted of quoting memorized Bible verses and when given Bible verse references, quickly locating them in the Bible. Mabel always had devotion before class began with prayer and reading a short passage from the Bible.
Mabel was born and grew up in the East Buffalo community. She was always in church, first attending Lone Oak Baptist Church and after her marriage to Cecil Hooper she has attended Robbinsville First Baptist Church. Most of her work in the church has been centered around young children including working in Vacation Bible School each summer. She has also served as the Mission Study Director for the Women's Missionary Union (W.M.U.), Training Union Director for her church and also for the Cheoah Baptist Association. She has also taught Sunday School for many years. A particular Bible verse that has always been an inspiration to Mabel and which is on the headstone of her parents graves in Lone Oak Cemetery is Matthew 6:33; "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Mabel said three of the main things she had to contend with when she taught school was students chewing gum, running in the hall, and talking back to the teacher. Now,especially in some of the larger school systems teachers must contend with drugs, sex, and violence, and are in danger many times of being assaulted themselves. This is a sad reflection on how society has changed through the years. Mabel says the biggest change she sees in children overall now and when she taught is a lack of discipline and respect. This is not a reflection on teachers necessarily,but a factor that seems to be present with many children of the present generation.
Mabel says she did not win any awards during her four decades of teaching. Who can measure the impact though that she has had in shaping many young lives both through the school and her church. Perhaps her reward is yet to come, in the next life. "Yea, says the Spirit, they will rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." Revelation 14:13.
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