03/16/14 — Longtime educator honored with scholarship in her name

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Longtime educator honored with scholarship in her name

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 16, 2014 1:50 AM

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The Central Heights High School Class of 1963 has established a scholarship in honor of Delores S. Johnson, left, who retired after 54 years as an educator in the Wayne County Public Schools. With her is Mel Battle, Class of 1963 principal.

As a young girl Delores Simmons Johnson knew that she had a burning desire to attend college. But she knew as well that her resources were limited -- her main source of income came from picking cotton and working in tobacco.

She wasn't deterred and now at age 78, and retired after 54 years as an educator, Mrs. Johnson has inspired the Central Heights High School Class of 1963 to establish a scholarship in her honor.

Two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded when the Class of 1963 meets during the Central Heights Alumni Weekend event, which is held in September.

Applications are available at the county's public high schools.

Applicants must be a graduating senior from Wayne County Public Schools or a relative of a Central Heights High School graduate.

"If possible, we would like to have at least one from an individual pursuing a major in business, which is what Mrs. Johnson's degree is in," said Mel Battle, Class of 1963 president.

The class could have gone through the alumni association, but decided that it wanted to established its own scholarship in honor of Mrs. Johnson, Battle said.

The scholarship was announced at the class's 50th reunion last September.

The Class of 1963 Scholarship Committee will review the applications and make the decision, Battle said.

The scholarship fund will be sustained by the members of the Class of 1963, he said.

"I just try to serve the community. That is what I have tried to do since I retired," Mrs. Johnson said. "I was very humbled. It brought joy to my heart to know they would do that because I know that each year two deserving students would receive scholarships to help them further their education.

"I am sure the scholarship will continue for years to come because the students in the Class (of 1963) are loyal, dedicated and hard-working members of society."

While working in tobacco in the summer of 1953 following her graduation from Carver High School in Mount Olive, Mrs. Johnson listened as students talked about filling out applications to attend North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University) in Durham.

She filled out an application and was accepted.

Her mother agreed to help, and while at the college, Mrs. Johnson worked in the dining hall -- a job that she kept for all four years there.

Mrs. Johnson graduated in 1957 with a bachelor's degree in business education and was the first student from the business department to sign a contract as a teacher.

Her first teaching position was at Central Heights High School where she taught shorthand, typing, general business, accounting and business math.

She was the adviser for the Classes of 1963, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

Central Heights closed in 1969 and consolidated with New Hope High School to form Eastern Wayne High School.

She continued to teach at Eastern Wayne and served as co-adviser for the Future Business Leaders of America and the National Honor Society.

Mrs. Johnson, who lives at Dudley, retired after 36 years, but in the 17 years since that time, she has served as an interim teacher, reading tutor and substitute teacher for a total of 54 years in the classroom.

Mrs. Johnson has been a member of the First Congregational Church in Dudley since she was 12. She is currently a deaconess at the church, a member of the choir and assistant clerk.

She is a 50-year life member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

For more information about the scholarship, call Battle at 336-694-6895 or 336-514-0350 (cell) or send email to benz3@comcast.net.