Planting the Seeds of KnowledgeBlock Number: 76
“Learning Together for Tomorrow” and “Planting the Seed of Knowledge”
by Nora Worthen
Glenwood Elementary School is host to two quilt blocks, numbers 76 and 77 on the McDowell Quilt Trail. As one travels south on Old US 221, at the crest of the hill, just as the school comes into view, look closely to either end of the building, and first you will be able to see “Planting the Seed of Knowledge,” and then “Learning Together for Tomorrow” will come into view.
The old brick Glenwood High School building that is remembered by a large number of McDowell County residents was built in 1920. 1972 was the last graduating class to attend the high school. The next year the brick building was torn down to make way for the present Glenwood Elementary School. The auditorium is the only part of the former high school remaining, which holds a ton of memories for all the students who crossed its stage to receive that long-awaited diploma. The entire campus is a compilation of buildings ranging from 1936 to 2002, when the new addition was dedicated.
As quilt blocks began to dot the county, Lynn McNeilly, principal, and Betty Ross, guidance counselor, began discussing the possibility of hosting a block for Glenwood. After discussions with Mike Lucas, member of the McDowell Quilt Trail committee, about sponsoring a quilt block for the school, the decision was made to have two blocks, placing one at either end of the school.
On January 28, the students gathered along the expansive front portico of the building and Jill Lucas presented the Certificates of Authenticity for the two blocks to Mrs. McNeilly, Mrs. Ross, and Amy Vaughn, PTO president. In attendance for this ceremony were honored guests: Dr. Ira Trollinger, Superintendent of McDowell County Schools; Dr. Mike Murray, Assistant Superintendent for Operations; Becky Pearson, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction; and Mike Ayers, Director of Human Resources.
Block No. 77, named “Learning Together for Tomorrow,” is a 6x6 foot block made in a four-patch block configuration depicting items that one would find in an elementary school classroom. Pictured in the top left quadrant is a pencil holder with four pencils in different colors. In the top right are two apples for the teacher, one red and one yellow. The bottom left quadrant are books, while the right contains a box of Crayola crayons. These quadrants are framed with yellow No. 2 pencils lying end to end on a background in the color of maroon.
Mrs. McNeilly and Mrs. Ross explained how the faculty, students, former teachers, parents, and PTO contributed to making this project possible. The school participates in the Boxtops for Education program by collecting box tops. For each box top redeemed, the school receives one cent. Students are encouraged to bring them in, and a collection box is provided outside the office for depositing the box tops. Nicole Smith and Debbie Brewer are responsible for filling out the necessary redemption forms, trimming, counting, and mailing. Mrs. McNeilly says the school earns from $600.00 to $800.00 twice a year for this effort, and the funds are used for school supplies and special projects, such as this.
Also in attendance were Terry Frank, Patrick Frank, and Judy Cathcart, the family of Mrs. Vicki Frank, a beloved teacher, and in whose memory Quilt Block Number 76 was dedicated. Mrs. Frank was the Speech Language Pathologist at Glenwood for approximately 14 years. Her passing was a shock, not only to family and friends, but also to the children and staff at Glenwood. The Frank family lives in the community, and attends Glenwood Baptist Church. Their children were educated in the McDowell County school system, and Mr. Frank currently serves as a member of the Board of Education.
The afternoon event was a special time for the students, who gathered along the expansive front portico of the school for the presentation ceremony. Mrs. McNeilly thanked the students for their participation in the sponsorship of the quilt blocks and their efforts in creating the memory garden. Before going back to classes, the students filed past each block for a closer look.
In memory of Mrs. Frank, a special fund was established and used for the creation of a memory garden. Betty Ross, guidance counselor, and Tima Williams, Exceptional Children’s teacher who team taught with Mrs. Frank, initiated the creation of this garden. “Vicki loved flowers,” says Ross. “It was a way to help us do our grieving process.” Students in the Exceptional Children’s Program and the 21st Century After School Program made steppingstones for the garden as one of the enrichment activities. The memory garden was a collaborative effort by everyone - students, parents, faculty, school maintenance, and local businesses - donating money, plants, and labor.
“Planting the Seed of Knowledge,” which reflects Vicki’s philosophy, was the name given to quilt block No. 76, installed on the wall in the memory garden area. This 4x4 foot block pictures a pot of flowers always in bloom featuring the school colors of maroon and gold. Benches are placed in the garden, explains Mrs. Ross, “for teachers to be able to go out there with the kids and sit and read; or take kids out there who are upset and sit and talk to them, in nice weather. It’s a work in progress.”
Mrs. McNeilly, who has been principal at Glenwood Elementary since 1999, has announced her retirement date for February 28th. Under her leadership, the school has received numerous awards for School of Distinction and School of Excellence. She was named 2011 Wachovia Principal of the Year. She has worked for McDowell County Schools for more than 33 years, teaching at Pleasant Gardens Elementary, Nebo Elementary and West Marion Elementary, at central office for a short time, and for two and one-half years was assistant principal at East McDowell Junior High School.
During the transition from a high school to elementary, Mrs. McNeilly says efforts were made to try to keep the integrity of the old school as much as possible, such as maintaining the auditorium, retaining the school colors of maroon and gold throughout the color scheme, and retaining the dragon mascot, although it now has a friendlier look. The school is the center of the community and unites families from Glenwood, Dysartsville, and the Ashworth area.
“Learning Together for Tomorrow” was installed on the facade of the building at the west end near Old US 221. Mrs. McNeilly says, “I wanted it to be seen as you come down the hill. That one was important to me, for it to be a part of the community.” When asked about her future plans, Mrs. McNeilly says she wants to “do some traveling and just be a grandma.”