Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017

Woman of Wilson- Barbara Christian

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Barbara Christian

If you've passed the 2nd Grade at Southside Elementary School within the last four decades then you will recognize this week's Woman of Wilson Barbara Christian.

The longtime educator, who officially retired in 2014 after 41 years at Southside, not only taught students the basics - she taught them life lessons and that they were loved.

"The last 10 years or so I taught by the four L's. I said if they were looking at me, I knew they were listening. If they were listening, they were learning. But the most important L is that they loved each other," Christian said.

Christian taught children from a variety of backgrounds - some raised by single moms, some raised by single dads. "I wanted them to know how loved they were. They knew how much I loved them, but I would tell them 'As much as I love you, there is no one on earth that will love you more than your mother or your daddy,'" she said.

Not only did her students feel loved, Christian made sure they felt special. Each student was allowed a "Special Week" during the school year and given the opportunity to shine in her annual Thanksgiving Play.

During each student's "Special Week" they could bring family photos to display on the bulletin board, their parents could come visit the class, they could bring snacks to share with the class or items for show and tell.

"I had one student whose mother brought a camel to school and had t-shirts made for all the students," Christian remembered. (Writer's Note: I was that student.)

Each year the Thanksgiving Play in her classroom told the story of the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Native Americans to parents and guests.

"I wanted the children to do something that they could learn from and have fun with. At that age children love to perform. Parents enjoyed seeing what their children could do and how much they had learned," Christian said. "I think it is important to teach our children to be thankful. That is the whole theme of the play, because each child could share what they were thankful for."

Christian, who was born in Florida and moved to Lebanon as an infant, attended McClain School through the 6th grade. Her family returned to Florida for five years, then came back to Lebanon where Christian graduated from Lebanon High School.

Christian earned her Associate's Degree from Cumberland University in Lebanon and went on to earn her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.

She began teaching at Southside Elementary in 1973. Christian stayed at Southside her entire career because it was "a family."

"I had great friends and we had some great leadership there. Everyone just cared about each other and about the students. I had offers to leave, but I didn't want to leave," she explained.

Retirement has given Christian the opportunity to focus more on family and friends. She has hosted many baby showers and wedding showers at her home. She enjoys cooking and laughingly said, "I can cook chicken about 100 ways."

Christian also shared that she has been blessed with a special man in her life, Gary Maggart.

Christian formerly taught Sunday School for 13 years at First Baptist Church, and has been an active member of Immanuel Baptist Church for the last 10 years. She has also been a member of the Wilson County Fair Board for more than 30 years.

The woman she most admires is her mother, Dora Winfree.

"I feel like she instilled in me so many great traits. She had my brothers and I in church every time the doors were open. She instilled honesty, taught us to be grateful for what we had - I feel that my mom loved us more than life itself," Christian said. "I think she taught us the importance of loving and caring about people."

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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