Each generation unlocks the door for those that follow. Mrs. Louis McGregor began teaching in the 1950's when schools were still segregated. By the 1960's she was a special education teacher in Virginia. "Back then, all the kids in Special Education were labeled MR (mentally retarded)," she said casually. "Later on, they started identifying kids as learning disabled, and I got the lowest of the low to work with." Mrs. McGregor remembers when white children with special needs were bussed to her all-black school and how she was uncertain how the "white parents" would feel about having their child taught by a black teacher. She made her mark by doing what was right by each of her students.
I worked with students that made it out of Special Education and were successful in General Education. Sometimes the principal would come to my room and ask me to accompany him to another teacher's room to help out with a student that was out of control.
When I asked what was different about the way she handled students, she replied, "I handled them the McGregor way. It's a secret and I didn't share my secret." Her daughter, Robyn McGregor, interrupted, "Mom paid attention to every student she had. That's what made the difference."
Mrs. McGregor continued, "Last Chritmas and Easter, I received cards from the graduating class of 1950 and a one hundred dollar bill in each card. One student wrote ," If it weren't for you Mrs. McGregor, I wouldn't be where I am today." They say I changed their lives. I don't really know how."
Mrs. Louise McGregor spent forty-four years teaching in the public schools. Her husband, Robert D. McGregor, Jr. participated in the Selma March and was the Tri-State President of the NAACP for eighteen years.
Thank you Mrs. McGregor for blazing the trails for those of us that have come after you.