Jerry Foxworth was a woman, a mother and a teacher who lived, loved and laughed.
Students, family and colleagues gathered in the gymnasium at Morris Jeff Community School in Mid-City to honor Foxworth, a former teacher who died in 2014. The school dedicated its early childhood center in her memory.
Michelle Johnson recalled, while holding back tears, the impact Foxworth had on her and the entire staff at Morris Jeff. It was her smile and demeanor, Johnson said, that left the biggest impact.
Johnson, who co-taught with Foxworth, spoke about the importance of a good and impactful teacher during her speech to the crowd.
“She was respected by the entire staff and student body. There is a quote that says ‘A teacher effects eternity. She can never tell where her influence stops,’” Johnson said.
Bridget, Jerry’s daughter, recalls that Foxworth knew that her place in the world was to be a teacher. Foxworth was an impactful teacher in more ways than one.
“She knew who she was, she knew her purpose and that purpose was to teach and impact the lives of children. She understood that every child had immeasurable value and was capable of learning,” Bridget said. “She impacted not only the lives of the kids, but other teachers, parents and even our family as well.”
Joseph Williams was one of several of Foxworth’s former students that spoke at the event. Foxworth changed Williams’ approach to school.
“She is the reason that I don’t like to miss a day of school because you don’t know what you will miss out on and for that I will always love her.”
Julia Bates, friend and colleague of Foxworth’s, worked with her at multiple schools. Bates always marveled at Foxworth’s ability to control a classroom. She first saw this when they were both teachers at the Live Oaks school in Uptown.
“When I was at a loss on how to help a child or near giving up, she would take and calm my wildest students. She would give them a stern look and reflection time in her power chair,” Bates said.
When they became colleagues again at Morris Jeff, Bates confronted Foxworth further about how she atmosphere in her classroom. Foxworth answered her this time, partially.
“I remember walking into her classroom, the fourth classroom I had seen her teach in, and I was overwhelmed by the tranquility and sincerity I felt. I asked her again, as I had many times, ‘what’s your secret? There’s something different in your classroom. How do you keep it so calm?’” Bates said.
“’She said ‘sometimes I like to get here early when no one else is here, when everything is quiet and I walk around the room and I just pray. I pray for a good day, I pray for the children.’”
Most of those who spoke at the event spoke to Foxworth’s warm and welcoming demeanor.
Bates remembers a moment when Foxworth’s demeanor helped her when she needed most.
“I remember when she was there during my second trimester miscarriage and she offered me the best advice anyone had ever given me, or best comfort, Bates said. “‘I will give you the biggest hug you’ve ever had when I see you again.’ These are things I’ll never forget.”