Friday, June 13, 2014

St. Bernard to honor veteran teacher at reunion

Helen Glasscock is a name that every student who has graduated from St. Bernard Preparatory School will recognize.  The image that comes to mind is of a lady with a soft Southern accent, quiet charm and a will of steel when it comes to teaching English to high school students.

Helen Glasscock was born and raised in Cullman County on a farm in Oak Level, the same area homesteaded by her grandfather who came from Berlin, Germany in 1850.  She married her husband, Kent, 61 years ago and they have three daughters:  Debra, Mary and Melanie.  They have seen their family grow so that today, Glasscock, along with being a lifelong student and teacher, is a grandmother, great-grandmother and great- great, grandmother.

After graduating from Holly Pond High School, Glasscock attended Sacred Heart Academy before she enrolled at St. Bernard College.  She graduated from St. Bernard in January of 1966 with highest honors, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. She immediately began graduate studies at the University of Alabama and began teaching at St. Bernard College in the fall of 1966.  After several years of teaching she received a grant from the National Defense Education Act  to attend Florida State University.  Later,   she received a  National Endowment Humanities grant and did further studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville.  She did further graduate work at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where she had earned her masters degree in English.

She began her teaching career in the fall of 1966 at St. Bernard College where she taught in the English Department until 1979 when St. Bernard closed its Liberal Arts College.  From 1979 till 1984 Glasscock taught as a member of the faculties of Alabama State College, Snead State Junior College and Wallace State Junior College. When St. Bernard reopened its high school program in 1984, Glasscock rejoined the St. Bernard English Department and, for the past three decades, has been an integral part of its teaching faculty.

“Times and the way things are done in education have changed over the past thirty years,” said Glasscock.  “In the past, a teacher could assume that the students shared a common background such as scripture, books, and the like.  Today, that’s no longer the case.  Often times, there is no body of common knowledge which students bring with them.  Especially is this true with our international students.  It makes for a greater challenge in the classroom.”

“We live in a society where a teacher must be watchful, perceptive, and judicious in teaching the material as well as managing classroom behaviors,” she continued.  “Technology is a necessary part of education today so students are allowed to use e-tablets and e-readers.  Still I require a hard copy of all papers.” 

Glasscock is very mindful of reading materials which she assigns to her students.  “Teenagers need guidance.  If they are curious readers then allow them to read what interests them. We want our students to have an appreciation for learning so they can understand the wide variety of human needs.  Seeing these needs, they learn to respond in a way that shows man’s humanity to man.”
Despite being a demanding teacher, students often return after graduation to visit with their English teacher.  One compliment she remembers lightheartedly was from a student who said, “I only made a ‘B’ in your class but I received an ‘A’ for the same material in college.”  More than a few students have said, “College English was easy after having Mrs. Glasscock’s class.”

Mrs. Glasscock ended by saying, “I enjoy every minute spent in the classroom and plan to return to St. Bernard next fall and will again teach more English classes.”

Glasscock will be honored for her distinguished years of service at St. Bernard on Saturday, June 28, 2014 at the St. Bernard Alumni Reunion beginning at 6:00 p.m.

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