Editoral Interviews by Gabriel Barton
Julie Benjamin: High School English
Mrs. Julie Benjamin was born in Nashville, TN but then relocated to Cookeville for high school (moved when she was 14). She then attended Tennessee Tech to earn her Ed. S. in instructional leadership and MA in curriculum instruction. This led her to teach English for 8 years and Humanities the last 2 years at Cookeville High School, we can only hope Mrs. Julie Benjamin will plant new, permanent roots in Murfreesboro, as we desire all that she has to offer.
While claiming to love the subject you teach is the most common response, I declare it as the most sincere and the answer I prefer to hear over any other. Yes, Benjamin proposed this as her initial response, but she also professed to love “the complexity of the English Language”, a detail one does not hear frequently. Similarly to Dr. Daniel’s marvelous affinity for math, Benjamin loves grammar “the way some people look at solving math problems. A properly constructed sentence is as satisfying to me as solving an equation.” Benjamin personally told me that her responses were nerdy and It wasn’t necessary to include “all the details”, but we go to a “nerdy” school, respectively. I find comfort in her quirky joy of English!
While most people would assume English teachers to be the people who love to cozy up near a fire and read to their heart's content with a cup of Chai on the side, our teacher in question is an exciting exception. During the summer, Benjamin’s favorite season, she “loves loves loves” to be by a pool reading a book and enjoying the time with her three daughters Hannah (right), Emily (left), and Olivia (middle).
Brenda Daniel: High School Math
Disclaimer: The Paw Print Newspaper acknowledges that Dr. Daniel arrived mid-school year in the 2019 academic year, but we haven’t had a proper introduction…
As if you couldn’t already tell by her sweet southern accent and warm heart (personal experience), Dr. Daniel was born in Shelbyville, TN where she earned her Bachelors at UTK (I feel as if I should point out that she is a HUGE Vols fan, but if you have her as a teacher, you definitely already knew that), Masters at Carson-Newman, Ed. S at the University of the Cumberlands and recently received her PhD at Cumberlands as well. Congrats Doctor! I pity that her recent school, Overton High School has to live without her charm.
I do not understand, nor will I ever, how one can have such an affinity for the world of equations, expressions, and graphs, nonetheless, I admire Doctor for her enthusiastic spirit! For this very reason, Dr. Daniel has been divinely led to the educational community in order to teach the strange relation of numbers. “‘Educational community’? Why not just say ‘highschool’?”, you may ask. The term “high school” is simply not applicable to Dr. Daniel, for she has taught “Marketing I, II, and Dual Enrollment, Personal Finance, Advertising, Public Relations, Work-based Learning, Accounting, and Business Law”. Now you see that her resume cannot match “high school”. Accordingly, she also won the “2012 State of TN & Jumpstart Foundation Personal Finance Teacher of the Year”; she had the most teams compete at the state championship.
If you have her as a student, you might already know this but I must reiterate that Dr. Daniel comedically claims that her twins, Kirk and Abigail, freshmen at MTSU, are her “hobby” (who am I to not allow a mother to brag on her children?). And, of course, Doctor loves to visit Knoxville as much as possible, especially during the football season. And yet, she continues to impress me as she currently teaches College algebra night classes for Calhoun Community College, Decatur Campus.
Brittany Dixon: Spanish
Ms. Brittany Dixon is native to Tennessee where she got her BA in Spanish at Carson-Newman University, M.Ed. in Education at Lipscomb University, and Master of Arts in Teaching World Languages at MTSU. Her last teaching position was held at Dekalb County High School in Smithville, TN.
Shockingly enough, Ms. Dixon entered her freshman year of college without a Major! What a courageous risk to take, to have the dedication to achieve a college education even though she didn’t know what she wanted to do. That’s more effort than a lot of people can ever say for themselves. Bravo!
Eventually, Dixon “landed on Spanish” as her Major simply because she found the most joy in learning the language than she did in learning any other subject. So, now that she found her Major to pursue, ‘what was she to do next?’ you may ask.
In Dixon’s final year of college (FINAL YEAR) of her undergraduate studies, she at last knew that she wanted to become a teacher. She “saw how [her] love for Spanish could combine with [her] other loves of innovation and creativity”, thus bringing her to our school today.
With that being said, Dixon also confidently responds that she will never consider teaching a different subject other than the Spanish Language.
Outside of school and during breaks, Dixon enjoys hiking (most likely with her husband, Andrew), playing the piano, drinking coffee with substantial amounts of almond coffee creamer (something we both share!) and “admiring trees”. I do not know how one goes about “admiring trees”, but I can only imagine it is very relaxing and tranquil, indeed. She loves to play pretend with her son where she mimics the voices of different characters from the Movie “Cars”, presumably her son’s favorite film. She loves to be the tow truck, Mater.
Above all, Dixon is “beyond delighted” to join the CMS faculty, to which she calls us “an AMAZING collection of teachers and students alike”. We, at the CMS Paw Print, wish her all the best and hope she sticks around for years to come!
Brandon Eldridge: AP US History
Mr. Eldridge is no stranger to this land as he was born in Lebanon, TN where he got his Criminal Justice Degree at Cumberland University (2008) and his Secondary Education Degree (2008). Impressively, Eldridge is currently enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Carney, specifically learning Constitutional History in order to obtain his MA in History. The students of Warren County High School must have been terribly sorrowful when he resigned to come teach here, at Central Magnet.
Ladies and Gentlemen, after interviewing Eldridge, I dare say I have never met such a more vivacious history junkie (RIP Mr. Cato). Eldridge’s passion for learning the events of our history, the events that define the human race, have assuredly led him to where he is today, or rather the places he has been, for he has taught “Criminal Justice, K-8 Music, 5th-6th grade Language Arts, Contemporary Issues, (AP) Government, [AND FINALLY] (AP) United States History. I must applaud Dr. Ash in his hiring decision concerning Eldridge!
But when does he stop to impress? You tell me: this year, Eldridge was chosen as the only history teacher in TN to be a member of the James Madison Fellowship, and will therefore spend a stipend month in Washington, DC enrolled in a rigorous study program focused on the US Constitution! He will be granted the opportunity to meet a sitting Supreme Court Justice, and visit the following historical sites: Monticello, The White House, Mt. Vernon, Montpelier, Arlington National Cemetery, and much more?! I’m not even a history junkie and I can’t help but be ever so envious!
Outside of school, Eldridge enjoys bowling and spending time with his family, but most of his time is dedicated to his Graduate school studies. In May/June, he will be having abundant amounts of fun grading AP US History Exams for the College Board. For all of his current students out there, let’s be sure to be extra courteous to Eldridge in the classroom.
Danny Freeman: Art
Born in the most perfectly planned city that practically predestined his career, Mr. Danny Freeman began his art passions in RAINBOW City, Alabama. And while small towns seem desirable in movies (Rainbow city population: 9,565), they are not everyone’s forte, especially Freeman’s, leading him to earn his higher education in the bigger cities at MTSU for BA and Austion Peay for his MA. Freeman then decided to teach at Wright Middle School (part of Metro Nashville Schools), ultimately renouncing small town living once and for all (but one must never say never). I biasedly don’t understand the appeal of major cities. I better be rocking in a small town when I retire.
Life never seems to go the way we plan, and when the plans do change, it is usually better than we could have ever imagined. At first, Freeman was a History Major, but on one fateful day, at the end of “an obligatory” art education class, his professor approached him, noticing the many doodles Freeman had sketched during the lecture, and bluntly told him to switch his Major. Soul searching soon followed, and after realizing that he “was making tons of art all the time anyway”, Freeman decided to follow his Professor's direction. If only I could personally thank his professor. Peace corp. with wife (2009-2012)
Besides creating art masterpieces on the daily, Freeman enjoys hiking and camping during school breaks as well as the occasional video game. Lastly, Freeman had to tell you, the readers of the Paw Print, that he is “the least stinky person in [his] immediate family, but not the prettiest, the smartest, nor the most talented.” I, for one, love in his candor, but you may decide your final opinions. Does he say this because he has a 2 year old, Arwen, 5 year old, Sadie, and Wife, Shannon, or for other unknown reasons? Art is usually a mystery, but this time it really is.
Lisa Meek: Middle School Science
Born in Evansville, Indiana where she got her BA in Science and Physical Education Degree in 1992 at the University of Southern Indiana, Mrs. Lisa Meek is a foreigner to Tennessee, but not by too much as she moved to TN immediately after completing her Collegiate education. She had many friends in Tennessee and saw a great opportunity for her future here. A foreigner she may be but an amatuer she is not, for her last teaching position was at Stewarts Creek Middle School.
From the beginning, Meek’s inquisitive scientific mind has been the main drive that led her to where she is today. Not many teachers push for “hands-on” activities that assuredly aid students to better grasp subjects, but Meek sure does, considering it is her favorite part of the course! All of the classes that she has taken in previous years have been so fruitful to her, she cannot help but expand her bountiful harvest to the young minds of our generation! Such spirit is rare within teachers, so we, here at Central, are honored to have such a passionate instructor in our midst.
But the surprises don’t stop there. Meek also taught Physical Education for ten years at Stewarts Creek. She “loved being active and was always drawn to the science of movement and health; this is what led me to switch to teaching science”. If I were a student in her class, I would not feel the least bit worried about her confidence in teaching the material, knowing that she has physically lived the subject herself!
Another thing that gives me confidence in Meek is that she undoubtedly practices what she preaches. When the school day/year is over, Meek loves to exercise, be outside and ride her horses, Po and Lizzy. However, one must take a break eventually from the thrill life which Meek respectfully does, effectively utilizing her time to crochet, spend time with her family playing games of any kind-Her favorite board game is Clue (maybe you know what that is?).
Additionally, Meek has been married to Mr. Bill Meek for thirty years. Her family now consists of her UTC Graduate, Hunter, and MTSU Junior, Taylor, as well as her two dogs Tucker and Vandy and we cannot forget her betta fish “Captain Jack”.
We hope to enjoy Mrs. Meek’s company at Central for years to come!
Cayla Sweet: Theatre
A purple haired Chief’s fan born in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Mrs. Cayla Sweet isn’t too green to Tennessee as she earned her B.F.A. at Rockford University, IL, but her recent M. Ed. at MTSU (2015). Reason being, she simply “didn’t like the North” and now she much rather appreciates our Southern Hospitality. Her last teaching job lasted four years at Lebanon High School.
Sweet wasn’t your classic “theatre kid” in high school. She didn’t even take theatre classes. However, she loved performing in theatre and choir showcases throughout high school, leading to an emphatic passion that truly matured during her college years. In fact, during the Summers of College, Sweet acted professionally in Summer Stocks, keeping the job out of College as well. That is until she decided teaching theatre would be more fulfilling, passing her experience and knowledge to the next generation. Sweet has only taught theatre but would possibly be open to instructing voice or dance as she grew up taking dance and trained professionally in college. A woman of many talents
Before social gatherings were restricted, Sweet actively participated in live theatre shows at the Center For the Arts and plans to resume her acts as soon as possible. She grew up playing club soccer and enjoys participating in the sport to this day, even assisting with the MS Lady Tiger soccer team.
And, as any mother does, Sweet adores simply hanging out with her 1 year old son, Jamie, and husband, Nate.
Lastly, the hair. I have never met a purple-haired teacher, but she has certainly set the bar high for the next purple-haired teacher I meet. Be on the lookout for when her hair color changes and don’t be alarmed, it’s still our Mrs. Cayla Sweet.
Where Did Those Benches Come From?
Review by Gabriel Barton
Last month, you might have noticed some new outdoor furinture by the Annex entrance. Two Lovely constructed wood benches are placed in a V-shape arragment with potted florals at the end of each, along with a simple gravel path that is laid in front of the benches for your convienence. But where did such a comfortable outdoor setting come from?
Well, when Graham Hall (12th) was assigned "to give back to a community that has influenced a major part of [his] life" by his Eagle Scout Counsel (Troop 1108), he knew his own school was the perfect place. Hall has been a part of the Tiger Family from the very beginning, starting in 6th grade, and will end his journey with them when he graduates this academic year.
"My biggest influence from central has been my growth in leadership. Central has helped me to become a better leader through different problem solving in different classes and through clubs." -Graham Hall (sitting on right bench in blue shirt)
But greatness is rarely acheived alone. Grace Towle, Payton Towle, Andrew Towle, Jill Gilliland, David Gilliland, Michael Robertson, Ethan Freeman, Ethan Parker, David Kirkham, Dough Montgomery, Ethan Branchau, Jacob Branchau, Spencer Burritt, Christian Hidalgo, Jackson Hidalgo, Alistair McCarrell, Mike Mung, Austin Johnson, John Ohlemacher and Roy Birdwell were all contributing laborers that assisted in the planning and constructing of the outdoor display. Note that no one received any kind of commission (except for catered Chick-Fil-A lunch). All listed voluntarily sacrificed their time and energy for the benefit of the project.
If you happen to see Graham Hall around the school (most likely wearing a long-sleeve plaid shirt tucked in with a belt buckle), make sure to share your gratitude for his valiant actions taken for our school.