We Learned A Lot From Miss Raye Spinks At The Colville Street School

  • Friday, January 13, 2023
  • Mary Haislip

I so enjoyed the article on the Diocese of Nashville: A Family of Faith…but more so on the mention of the photographer. I have followed Robin Hood’s photography throughout the years. He sat next to me in the first grade at Central Elementary on Colville Street there in Chattanooga.

My first grade class had 41 students and the teacher was Miss Raye Spinks…she didn’t have an aide or anything else…no workbooks…and I really don’t remember any books or other reading books and none were anywhere close to pristine condition…and there was only one mimeographed page to color for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s and Easter.

We learned to cut correctly from old magazines either brought from home or she had collected for those not having magazines at home. We learned colors from those magazines also…she’d ask for us to cut out something orange…and away we’d go…ready to show her as she walked around the room.

Everything was basically taught from the blackboard and by rote. She didn’t teach you…she LEARNED you…and learn we did. We also learned manners…like walking in a line, being quiet in those lines…and so much more.

Miss Spinks was a marvelous and loving teacher and all of us blossomed under her care. In the summers she would go to Arizona or New Mexico and work with the Pueblo Indians - always returning in the fall.

The PTA system was excellent…the mothers pitched in and what fantastic and messy times we had for holiday parties and how we looked forward to those parties. All in her class learned to read and at graduation 12 of us graduated together from Chattanooga High School. Of course, others graduated from Central and area schools. I don’t know the exact total graduating from that first grade class, but at one time I had traced 24 kids…I only know of one dropout.

We went on to productive careers in society. Robin came during the school year and moved away from the school area after the first grade, but I always remembered him. On the other side of me in that first grade class was a boy who became superintendent of Bedford County Schools and then moved on to Motlow…and me in the middle…I became a teacher.

I have always been thankful for each and every teacher I had at that school. We were all basically dirt poor, the school was old and not in the best of condition and, as we moved up in grades, the books, like the school, were worn out. We never had any new books or even any in good condition, but that never mattered as each of us achieved “greatness” in so many ways from a wonderful foundation in that first grade class.

Mary Haislip


* * *

I was forwarded the nice note that you had e-mailed about our newly released book –Diocese of Nashville.  I particularly enjoyed your references to Central Elementary School in North Chattanooga. Actually, I came to the school at the beginning of second grade, and stayed the entire school year. Afterwards, my family moved to Brainerd where I attended Missionary Ridge Elementary in the third and fourth grades. 

While at Central Elementary, we lived on Tremont Street (first house on the right from Frazier Avenue. It is still there). One of the things I remember most is that the after-school kids were taken to the auditorium to watch 1940’s black and white movies about the French Foreign Legion, Three Musketeers, and early Tarzan.   

You mentioned graduating from Chattanooga High School. If we were in the same class at Central Elementary, you must have graduated from City in 1962?  I, too, attended City in the Class of ’62.  Perhaps, we were in the same class at City?
Robin Hood

Franklin, Tn.

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