March was designated as Women’s History Month in 1987. Since then, the month has been dedicated to highlighting the historical contributions of women. This month, we are highlighting a woman who made a significant impact on the lives of many Acworth residents throughout her lifetime.
Spotlighting Miss Fannie B. McClure
I always enjoy the times when my mind wanders, and I find myself remembering people whose influence was profound and long lasting. For me, it was my grandfather’s sister, Aunt Abbie, or my high school civics teacher, Mrs. Fullbright. But, for many Acworthians, such dalliances into the past bring forth a vivid picture of Miss Fannie B. McClure.
Miss Fannie B. McClure (1917-2009) was the second daughter of Dave (1884-1961) and Fannie Bell McClure (1888-1955) of the Mars Hill community. Miss Fannie B was a lifelong member of the Acworth United Methodist Church, and taught Sunday school there for 73 of her 91 years.
Miss McClure was not an icon nor was she famous beyond the local Acworth environs. But, she was indeed a unique lady who brought Southern manners and decorum to four decades of first-graders. Born in 1917, she began teaching even before she had graduated from Georgia State College for women in Milledgeville, now Georgia College. Her career in Cobb County Schools spanned 42 years.
I asked several folks who knew Miss Fannie B. to tell us about this extraordinary woman. Let’s start with her former principal, Butch Price.
“The term Southern gentility is defined as social superiority as demonstrated by genteel manners, behavior and appearance. This described Miss McClure to a tee,” Price said.
“I first met Miss McClure in 1964, as a green horned first-year teacher. She was already a veteran with 27 years in the classroom. By 1978, I found myself being reassigned to Acworth Elementary, but this time as principal.
“Miss McClure was beginning her 42nd and final year of teaching. I observed her serve as a role model and mentor to other teachers on the staff. Many would go to her for advice as they dealt with issues they weren’t sure of. I observed her teaching style. She never moved off track regarding her genteel nature. She demonstrated how to dress and look professional, she demonstrated patience, kindness and love toward her students.
“I observed her students being molded into ‘little Miss McClures.’ Most wanted to please her by their dress, actions and desire to achieve. She prepared them to be successful in their formative years. Was it easy? No. In 1978, Miss McClure had 27 students in her class. She told me this was one of the smallest number of students she had had in her teaching career. In fact, she had 51 students in her class back in her early teaching years.”
Former Acworthian students offered some insight into Miss McClure’s long-lasting impact. One, a 75-year-old man, said, “All I remember is, Miss McClure was so nice and sweet. She never raised her voice and was always kind to me.” Another former student, in her late 60s or early 70s, said, “I walked to school and got there early. Miss McClure would brush my hair and help me look my best each day.” And another student, a 50-year-old female, said, “Miss McClure was very strict. She did not put up with foolishness. In fact, she spanked my hand with the little ruler a few times.”
Thank you, Miss McClure. There are many who emulate her style today with pride. She is worthy of our honor and many fond memories.
– Abbie Parks, an Acworth resident, co-authored pictorial essays on regional history and collaborated on a book celebrating Acworth’s 150th birthday that featured anecdotal history and family photographs.