Thursday, September 29, 2011
Some people aren’t from New York
(Editor’s Note – Roderick Senter and wife Carolyn from Cincinnati, Ohio, came by the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce office last week. Marshall County Historical Museum is preparing an exhibit on the doctors of the area. His father, Dr. Curtis Senter, was a rural doctor here. Roderick wrote this.)
My name is Roderick Senter and I spent most of my life on the faculty of the Psychology Department of the University of Cincinnati.
How a small town boy from Byhalia wound up in Cincinnati is a long story, but I’d just like to point out that there weren’t many other “small town boys” there with me; in fact, I can only think of one other. Most of my colleagues were from cities, predominately, New York.
Needless to say, I got a lot of ridicule about my rural origins from my big city colleagues. The ridicule diminished, but never stopped, when, in 1983, out of 1600 faculty members at the University of Cincinnati, I won the Outstanding Teacher Award. I attribute no little credit for this distinction to the education I received at Byhalia Consolidated School.
Over the years, my sweet wife, Carolyn, (most kindly posing with me in the photo) who is a native Cincinnatian, has been impressed with the way my primary, and secondary, education from Byhalia has served me over the years. We often discuss certain subtleties of the English language and, in the beginning, she was impressed (knowing of my humble origins) with my knowledge of such things. She was even more impressed when I told her that much of my knowledge concerning English grammar, usage, and word definitions came through the efforts of a sixth grade teacher, Miss Marguerette Burks, at Byhalia Consolidated! In fact, over the years at the university, I have, on more than one occasion, gotten into arguments over grammatical issues or the exact meaning of certain English words with various colleagues. I believe that on every such occasion, my position proved to be the correct one. One of the great delights of my life occurred when a colleague – actually a Harvard graduate – had to admit that the “small town boy from Mississippi” was right!
At Byhalia High (class of 1948) I was exposed to the curriculum of the day which included Latin. I have been surprised, over the years, as to how many of my big city colleagues were never required to, or declined, to elect Latin. Although I cannot report that I was a distinguished Latin scholar, that study did prepare me for attacking modern languages required during my college days and even later. BHS also offered a class in typing. I registered for the typing class under my father’s urging (at the time, of course, typing was for girls who intended to pursue a stenographic career). Little could anyone have guessed that some 60 years later we would all be spending the lion’s share of our waking hours working with that same QWERTY keyboard, but now attached to a computer instead of metallic strike bars of a typewriter! But I think that, perhaps, the principal contribution from BHS to my life was that association with the faculty and fellow students there engendered in me a ferocious curiosity which has persisted, now, into my ninth decade of life.
This curiosity has fostered, I can’t say a “thirst for knowledge” throughout my life, but, certainly, a love of knowledge. I’m not sure that the folks at BHS intended to do that, but it has worked out well for me, in any event. Carolyn, my wife, enjoys a similar desire for the accumulation of knowledge. This has turned out to be a great thing, for, in 43 years of marriage, we have never run out of something to talk about at the breakfast table!
I’d like, very much, to thank Byhalia just for being my hometown and, especially, I’d like to thank Sarah Sawyer and The Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce for agreeing to preserve my Outstanding Teacher Award medallion so that when my numbered days have counted down, it will have a place where it belongs – back home.
– Roderick Senter
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