Thursday, February 5, 2009
Blue Mountain’s best
By BETH BREITHAUPT
Numerous studies have been done on birth order, with results most often suggesting that firstborns are usually more driven to succeed than siblings coming after them.
However, the Teel children of Paulette Whaley Teel and the late Maynard Teel of Mt. Pleasant didn’t get that memo.
Anna, the eldest, is associate pastor of Bella Vista Community Church in Bella Vista, Ark. She graduated from Marshall Academy as valedictorian in 1996, went to Blue Mountain College for her undergraduate degree, then Samford in Birmingham for her master’s while also working as a youth minister. Now she’s working on her doctorate at Samford while holding down a very demanding, full-time job.
Maria, the second daughter, also did very well at Marshall Academy and Blue Mountain, winding up as the director of admissions for the college of 467 students between New Albany and Ripley.
John Paul, the only son, has graduated from Ole Miss and is in graduate school at the University of Memphis, contemplating a move back to Ole Miss to finish his master’s.
But this story is about the baby of the family, Christina Teel.
Also the valedictorian of her senior class at Marshall Academy four years ago, Teel has blossomed from the shy, quiet, always-smiling student Marshall Countians knew to the girl who gets everything in college, all the while keeping a 3.9 grade point average.
Because her sisters went to Blue Mountain, Teel thought in her freshman and sophomore years of high school that she didn’t want to further her education there. It was too familiar. But in her junior year at MA, she decided Blue Mountain was for her, which also made her aunt Peggy McCallum happy, as she also went to Blue Mountain.
Now a senior, she’s class president and vice president of the Student Body Association, She was chosen homecoming queen, and Miss Blue Mountain.
Additionally, Teel is editor of Mountain Breeze, the school’s literary journal; a member of the Euzelian Society; a member of the English Club; a member of the Modern Foreign Language Club; a member of Scribblers, a writing group and one of her favorite hobbies; and a member of Sigma Tau Delta, a national English honor society.
Teel has recently been named as one of five Blue Mountain College students who will present her critical essay at the Sigma Tau Delta convention in Minneapolis, Minn., in March. She wrote her essay on Shakespeare’s Ophelia and Hamlet.
Asked why she majored in English, (with a minor in Spanish) Teel answered that her “Mama was an English teacher at Holly High, and both of my parents read to me and my grandma too.”
She just loves reading and books and writing as well.
For pleasure reading, Teel said, “I just love to read the Brontes, Emily, Charlotte and Anne, Jane Austen, and Shakespeare.
Another recent honor is being named the student Headwae representative. Dr. Johnny Mattox is the faculty representative. Higher Education Appreciation Day/Working for Academic Excellence was established by the Mississippi Legislature in 1988 and recognizes students and faculty members from each of the state’s 36 public and private colleges and universities.
Teel reminisces about when she and her suitemates were freshmen, they loved school and the newfound friendships so much that they actually cried when saying goodbye for Christmas break. Now they are still great friends, but have grown up a lot and are looking forward to the next chapters in their young lives. She wasn’t thrilled to say goodbye to her high school friends at graduation either.
“I’ve grown a lot. It’s stretched me so much by being in leadership positions and having to talk in front of people.
“I’ve had to come out of my shell some,” Teel said, admitting she’s still quiet by nature, but glad for the overall experience college has had on her.
When asked what has been the most fun thing about her college days at BMC, she replied, “The friends, the people.”
“I’m always learning new things about my close friends, even after four years.”
Teel’s advice to high school kids about to go to college is “enjoy as much as you can.’
“Don’t be afraid to try something new because you might like it. You might fall on your face, too,” she laughed.
Concerning studying, she said,“You’ll definitely have to work on it. You’re going to have to do it one way or the other.”
Always active in many school activities and with a large circle of friends growing up, Teel learned to study anywhere and any time.
The Teel family raised their children in church, every time the doors were open. So the children would go to the gym after school at First Baptist, Holly Springs, do homework and study while their parents were finishing up work at Holly High and in Memphis, Tenn., where Maynard was a C.P.A.
Because they lived at Mount Pleasant, and for a time in Potts Camp to take care of Paulette’s mother, they would not go home until after church activities were over.
Even now, Teel said she’s right at home studying in the midst of a BMC basketball game. She can concentrate even with all the noise and activity around her, occasionally looking up to enjoy the game.
Future plans for Teel may include graduate school at the University of Memphis. She’s not sure what God is calling her to do yet. She said, “I have no clue.” But she’s listening for His voice.
Her dream job would be “to own a small, community bookstore with a little snack bar where people could buy a pastry and a cup of coffee or a soft drink and read, read, read,” Teel said with her trademark smile.
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