six honored in recent hall of fame ceremony

On Friday, October 6, 2023, six former Hope Public School educators were honored during two ceremonies to celebrate their induction into the Hope Public Schools Educator Hall of Fame. Families and friends of (alphabetically) Dora Caldwell (posthumous), Kathryn Dickinson, Judy Garrett, Hezekiah Smith (posthumous), Dr. Roy Turner (posthumous), and Jack Watkins gathered in the Community Room of the First National Bank of Tom Bean in Hope for the event. Hope Schools Superintendent Dr. Jonathon Crossley presided. Each family sat at a table with fall-themed centerpieces that included a biography and history of education along with a crystal award for each of the inductees. 

Finger foods and drinks were provided to the honorees and guests throughout the event.

During the ceremony, family and friends spoke about the impact each inductee had on their lives. Following the ceremony, an on-field presentation was made before the Hope Bobcats football game as Steve Lance read each of the recipient's biographies as families stood on the 50 yard line for photos and recognition. 

Each year, former educators are nominated to be inducted into the Hope Public Schools Educator Hall of Fame. Criteria for nomination include: serving as an educator in the Hope School District for at least ten years, having retired from the education field, and receiving a higher number of nominations than other candidates. Awards may be made for living persons or may be made posthumously.

Dora Caldwell (1923-1988) 

  • Dora Caldwell was born Dora Ella Reed one hundred years ago in Columbus, Arkansas, thirteen miles from Hope. Both her mother and an aunt she was particularly close to were school teachers. 

  • She married her much-loved husband Calvin Caldwell (also from Columbus) during the Second World War. While he was away serving his country above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, Dora studied at Southern State College in Magnolia. When Calvin came home from the Army, they moved to Fayetteville, where they both studied at the University of Arkansas. 

  • When Dora graduated, she began her first teaching job in Greenland, Arkansas, just outside Fayetteville. 

  • Before moving back to Hope in 1961, the couple lived in Batesville and then Waldron, Arkansas. It was in these two small towns that Dora and Calvin began their family. Justin was born in Batesville, while Steven, John and Kay were born in Waldron.

  • When the Caldwells returned to Hempstead County and settled permanently in Hope in the early 60s, Dora decided to return to teaching. She was offered a job teaching English to seniors at Hope High School. She continued to teach seniors at Hope High until her retirement in 1984. 

  • She was particularly well-suited to teaching older students. She spoke to them as one adult to another. She had a very sharp and highly-developed sense of humor and this served her well in her teaching. She might sometimes give the impression that she did not suffer fools gladly, but this was absolutely not the case and her students knew it. 

  • She often said that “straight A students did not make the best teachers. A teacher with a few Cs or even Ds on his or her transcript was more likely to understand the trials and tribulations of all students, not just the ones on the honor roll.” Many of her students kept up with her after they left high school and some became friends.

  • Like all English teachers, Dora endured the drudgery of teaching grammar and composition. It was in the teaching of literature that she excelled. 

  • In college, she loved theater and often worked on college productions, helping to build props and put together costumes. This stood her in good stead. She was a lively and perceptive advocate for Shakespeare and never tired of reading Macbeth with her students. 

  • In our own times when books are being banned in schools all over the country, it is interesting to note that Dora Caldwell was far ahead of the curve. She taught Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies to her students. Both books were challenged by local clergymen. A compromise was reached and the books were placed in the school library where students could read them with parental permission, but they could not be discussed in class. The students who were able to hear her explanations of these books were the fortunate ones.

  • For most of her years at Hope High, Dora was Senior Sponsor. She helped organize graduation ceremonies, aided seniors ordering their caps and gowns, etc. She genuinely enjoyed seeing students succeed and was happy to be a part of their lives.

  • She leaves behind a memorable legacy.

Kathryn Dickinson

  • Kathryn was born in 1950 and She is a lifelong resident of Hope and Hempstead County.

  • She is a graduate of Hope High School in 1968.

  • She Received her Bachelors of Science in Education from Henderson State University in 1975

  • She Received her Masters of Science in Education from Ouachita Baptist University in1982

  • She Worked as the school secretary for 4 years at Edith Brown Elementary

  • She then Taught first grade in Hope Schools for 20 years, then served as the Assistant Principal at Clinton Primary School for 13 years. 

  • After retiring from Hope Public Schools in 2008, she served as an adjunct instructor at UACCH for five years.

  • Also In 2008, Kathryn was recognized as the Hope Hempstead County Educator of the Year by the Hope Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce.

  • Organizations she is involved include:

    • Hempstead County Retired Teachers, 

    • Hempstead County Master Gardeners, 

    • Guernsey Vol. Fire Dept., 

    • Delta Kappa Gamma (where in 2017 received the Carolyn Pittman Achievement Award) which is their highest state honor. 

    • She is a Member of the First Baptist Church of Hope.

  • Kathryn Currently serves on the Hope School Board where she has served since 2017.

  • She was married to the late Denny Dickinson. She has 3 children. Amanda Beck of Ft. Meyers, Florida; Rusty Beck of Hope, Jan McKinnon of Hope. She has 4 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Judy Garrett

  • Judy was born in Fort Riley, Kansas, and moved to Hope when her dad retired from military service. She was in the fifth grade at the time and received most of her education from the Hope Public School system.

  • She graduated co-valedictorian in 1973 and headed to the U of A to pursue a degree in Archaeology. While in Fayetteville, she took Zoology which reinforced her love for creepy, crawly things, causing her to change her major to Biology. 

  • She and her husband of 49 years married after her first year of college. She then transferred to HSU where she attained both a BSE and MS in Biology.

  • She began her teaching career with the Hope Public Schools in the early eighties. She was blessed to teach both general biology courses and elective upper level biology and worked with an excellent science faculty. 

  • She says she can honestly say that those years spent teaching at Hope High made her a real teacher. She realized the importance of explaining material in a way that students could relate to and understand. The caliber of students she had challenged her to find innovative and fun ways to present important concepts. If they talked about something microscopic, they either made a slide and looked at it or viewed a prepared slide, taking what was abstract and making it real. 

  • The administration played a pivotal role by generously providing the lab supplies she needed. She was constantly learning along with my students and making connections that she had never noticed before. Those connections enabled her to demonstrate the relevance of what they were studying and how life processes are interconnected. 

  • Her goal was to ensure that her students were better informed citizens and well-prepared for future college biology courses.

  • While teaching at Hope High, she also started teaching adjunct Biology for what has become UAHT. 

  • She accepted a position with UAHT in the mid-nineties and taught a variety of biology courses for them. 

  • She spent the last twenty years of her teaching career at UAHT and was voted outstanding faculty member while there. 

  • Though she enjoyed those years at UAHT, she can honestly say her favorite years were those she spent teaching at Hope High. 

  • She says she was truly blessed to spend her career teaching a subject matter that I found infinitely interesting and fun to teach. 

  • She still likes creepy, crawly things!

Hezekiah Smith

  • Born November 9, 1912, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Hezekiah M. Smith attended Arkadelphia public schools, Baptist Academy and Peake High School. 

  • He ultimately graduated from Arkansas AM&N College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) with his first Bachelor of Science Degree. Excelling in football, he achieved All American status at AM&N. After college, he joined the high school faculty at Lake Village, Arkansas.

  • Mr. Smith’s contributions to education were interrupted when he was drafted for service in the United States Army during World War II. After his honorable discharge from military service, he became a classroom teacher in Prescott, Arkansas.

  • He later continued his collegiate studies at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, where he earned his second B.S. in Agriculture. Upon graduation, he became a Veteran’s instructor in the Holly Grove, Arkansas, area.

  • In the early 1950’s, he became an instructor at Henry C. Yerger High School in Hope, Arkansas, and began graduate studies at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where he earned a master’s degree. 

  • He served as Assistant Principal at Yerger until 1970 when the high schools in Hope were integrated. 

  • He continued as a Vocational Agriculture Instructor at Hope High School, until his retirement in 1976, helping to make the Hope High School agriculture department one of the best in the state of Arkansas.

  • During his 26-year tenure with the Hope School District, his influence positively impacted numerous students, especially those enrolled in agriculture classes. Students and colleagues continually share personal stories about his remarkable sense of humor, dedication to education, and relentless efforts to create harmony during the integration of the schools. 

  • One of his former students recently said of Mr. Smith, “he was a strong disciplinarian who used uncanny wisdom in teaching us practical skills that have lasted a lifetime”.

  • Before retiring, Mr. Smith displayed his entrepreneurial acumen by engaging in a fast-food business venture known as Smith’s Dairy Diner in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. 

  • He passed away on August 29, 1995. At that time, in his memory, the H.M. Smith Scholarship Fund was established by his wife of 50+ years, Fairilla Simmons Smith, who was also a Hope Educator, and their three children. Multiple agriculture students in the Hope School District, who aspired for higher education, have benefited from the awarded scholarships.

Dr. Roy Turner

  • Dr. Roy Turner was born February 21st, 1966. He was the son of Roy C Turner Senior and Cleonia Marie Turner. 

  • He was a member of Union Missionary Baptist Church.

  • He graduated from Hope High School in 1984.

  • He attended SAU and graduated from there in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Education.

  • He received his Master of Science in Education degree from Henderson State University in 1993.

  • He earned his Educational Specialist Degree in 2003 and his real estate license the next year.

  • In 2014, he earned his Doctorate of Education from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

  • No stranger to brotherhood, Dr. Turner was a dedicated member of Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F.& AM. He was the past Master of Ambrosia #224. He also served in the office as Junior Warden, Senior Warden, and Secretary.

  • In Texarkana, Arkansas, he was a member of W. M. Lawson #27 H.R.A.M. where he served as Master II Veil and King. 

  • Dr. Turner continued his service with the Alabama Parks Commandery #4 Knights Templar, serving as Captain General and Generalissimo. 

  • He was also 1st Lt. Commander and Commander in Chief at S.T. Boyd Consistory #201 Valley of Washington Orient of Arkansas. 

  • Over the years, Dr. Turner served at Fred Johnson Jr. Arkansas Council of Deliberation, A.A.S.R. as Ist Lt. Commander, 2nd Commander, and he received a Gold Medal Achievement Award. 

  • His special accomplishments and acknowledgements due to his dedication and tireless efforts also included District Deputy Emeritus, Grand Marshall, Grand Lecturer, and C. M. Toney Banquet Committee Member.

  • In all of the meaningful work Dr. Turner took part in, his most esteemed work took place in the halls of Clinton Primary School and Beryl Henry Elementary School. Dr. Turner spent over thirty years working to educate and prepare students to strive and achieve a good education. As principal, he created a motto for the students of Beryl Henry to help instill the importance of hard work, dedication, and self-worth. At the end of every school event, Dr. Turner would have the students stand and recite the following school motto: "I want to be somebody, I can be somebody, I will be somebody, because I am somebody."

Jack Watkins

  • Jack Watkins graduated from Hope High School in 1966. He attended Southern State University in Magnolia, Arkansas. Because they didn't have a four year program for the agriculture educational program, he had to transfer to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas where he obtained his BSE degree in 1970.

  • Having had Troy Buck as his agri teacher in high school, he decided he was going to become an agri teacher. 

  • Jack began his teaching profession in Blevins, Arkansas from 1970 to 1972. Mr. Buck, needing another agri teacher contacted Jack and recruited him to Hope High School in 1972, where he taught with Troy until Mr. Buck left in 1982. Jack then became the head of the department and had many great student-teachers under him. 

  • After teaching at Hope High School for twenty-five years, Jack had decided it was time to retire. Soon afterward, Spring Hill School District contacted him about starting an agriculture program there, (which they did not have). He ended up staying for six years before retiring. 

  • Jack has always been active in the FFA program while attending high school, 9-12 grades and then being an educator for twenty-five years at Hope High School. Jack was on the FFA foundation board for several years, the third district fair board and the county fair board. Jack was involved in the FFA rodeo for twenty-nine years and was the one who started little britches bull riding for the younger children. He also started the spring hill ffa rodeo during his tenure there. 

  • In Jack's teaching of many, many students, he trained them in parliamentary procedure contests and won several of those contests.

  • Jack was in a perfect profession because he loved children and loved helping them learn! 

  • Jack also had the pleasure of working with three of the current hall of fame inductees: hezekiah smith, dora caldwell and judy garrett. 

  • Jack was honored with being teacher of the year in 1997 and grand marshal of the third district fair parade in 1997. 

  • Jack's parents were Lester Watkins and jewel dean Watkins moore who also worked for Hope public school as a secretary at the garland elementary school. His wife is Donna watkins. Son is Clint Watkins, wife, Suzanne Watkins, who also teaches at Clinton Primary and his grandchildren are Ty Watkins and Ana Marie watkins. Jack has one brother, Bo Watkins and one sister, Joan smith of whom both graduated from hope high school.  

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