Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017

Woman of Wilson: Linda Armistead

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Wilson County Zone 4 School Board Member Linda Armistead was elected to the seat in August 2014. Having spent 26 years in the classroom as an educator, Armistead brings knowledge and a new perspective to the table.

Armistead grew up in nearby Smithville and graduated from DeKalb County High School in 1967. After attending one semester at The University of Tennessee Knoxville, Armistead married her fiancé, Steve Armistead. The couple next moved to Hermitage where he began working for Vulcan Materials Company, and she completed her education at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. Armistead set her sights on becoming an educator.

"As a child, I loved playing school with my friends and taking turns as the teacher," she said. The Armisteads welcomed their first child, a daughter, Stephanie, while she was attending university. After graduating from MTSU in the spring of 1972 with a degree in English and Education, their second child, a son, Chadwick Armistead, was born that September.

"Playing teacher was fun, and now with two children and a degree, I was ready for the reality of the real classroom, or so I thought, and began teaching English at Mt. Juliet High School in 1973," she said. "Yes, those were the days without computers, and rosters of 25 to 35 names were handwritten in the grade book, and a separate plan book with lots of notes and reminders became your life. Teachers created their own exams based on what was taught, and the ACT was not required unless a student was going to college... And yes, teaching was, and still is, a challenging career, especially trying to balance family with work load demands, but one so richly rewarding."

Armistead stayed at MJHS throughout her teaching career - minus one year she taught middle school English at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy and assisted in curriculum selection.

"After a year of sabbatical, I was rehired at MJHS and from 2001 to 2012 worked with YouthLinks, a grant administered through the school system, which gave me an opportunity to work with many students in all four high schools, implementing plans for their continued education through training and careers and connecting them with real jobs," Armistead explained.

Due to family medical issues, Armistead retired in 2012 but continued to remain involved in education and helping young people.

"It is because of my vested interest in public education and my concerns for the disconnection between legislation and real educational needs that I desired an opportunity to serve as a school board member," she said, adding that the political entrenchment is "challenging but I am dedicated to work toward positive changes for our students and teachers."

In her spare time, Armistead enjoys being with her family, traveling, playing tennis and worshipping at Victory Baptist Church. She is a 2005 graduate of Leadership Wilson, charter members and past president of Wilson ONE, past president of the Democratic Women and a member of the Retired Teachers Association. She was honored as Educator of the Year by the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce in 2003.

Her daughter, Stephanie, is a teacher and now resides with her husband, Michael, and children, Morgan, LJ and Malia, in Sugar Hill, Georgia.

Armistead's son, Chad, and his wife, Cathryn live in Mt. Juliet with their three children, Jacob, Joshua and Isabella.

"Life has changed since the passing of my husband of 47 years, but my faith in the Lord remains strong," she said.

Armistead called her mother and daughter, Stephanie McDonald, her greatest inspirations.

McDonald overcame medical adversity with petit mal seizures as a child and excelled academically and athletically in school, graduating in the Top 10 Percent.

"Caring for her own daughter born prematurely at 6 months gave her even more drive to make great things happen in her life, as she used her athletic talents to earn a basketball scholarship to MTSU, playing all four years," Armistead recalled. "Then two more children later, a Master's Degree in Education from Cumberland University, a wonderful marriage, a former Wilson County Commissioner and West Wilson Middle School teacher - she still made time to volunteer coach and encourage young people. She is still teaching and volunteering and makes her relationship with Christ a priority. Yes, I love and admire this young woman."

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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