August 29, 2009
Dear LeDuke Family,
Your mother is a sparkling gem. We need more teachers like her. She was a true "teacher", in every sense of the word.
My story began about 1951 - 1952 school year. Being a tall, sports-minded guy, I played both football and basketball. And, I was not doing my work in Ms. Catherine LeDuke's English class. I sat in the back of her room, looking out the window, not paying attention, as usual. Suddenly, Ms. LeDuke said, "Luther, you are not doing your work and you are not going to play in the next football game", which was only a week away. "And, I will talk to Coach Truett and make sure that you do not get to play in the next game."
She gave me an option. She stated, "if you learn the rules of grammar and pass a test on them before the game, I will ask him to let you play. Here is a book of rules you can study."
Needless to say I was an athlete and felt I should be graded on my athletic ability not my academic ability. How wrong could I be?
Of course, I wanted to play in that football game, so I studied like I had never studied before. It paid off because I made one of the highest scores on that test. Mrs. LeDuke did talk to Coach Truett and I did get to play football that Friday night.
Mrs. LeDuke knew how to motivate me. Because of her and her excellent teaching ability, I not only passed the rest of the year, I also won the Best All-Around Athlete for 1953 in both basketball and football for Tiptonville High School.
Not only did she influence me to achieve what this story tells, she also was a great influence in my college years, where I received a BS in Education, and MS in Education in Administration and Supervision and half the required hours toward a Doctorate in Education. The Doctorate was never finished due to health reasons. I have spent my entire adult years trying to teach and educate children.
Yes, Mrs. Catherine LeDuke was a great inspiration to me and has been the epitome of a teacher who has influenced countless, poor, struggling kids. I am only one of them. Mrs. Catherine LeDuke deserves all the accolades we can bestow upon her.
Luther Burrus, Jr.