Accentuating the Positive
In the realm of relationships, a positive attitude is a desirable attribute for anyone, especially for someone in the teaching profession. In 1986, Peggy Reynolds’ principal nominated her for the Rotary Club’s Award for Teacher Excellence. Using the words of a famous song, he wrote: “Accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative and doing it with enthusiasm could be Mrs. Reynolds’ most personal quality”. Peggy received this award as well as others in her thirty-five years as a teacher in Memphis City Schools.
Peggy Perkins was born August 3, 1937 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Memphis. Her father owned Memphis Auto Parts and her mother was a homemaker. Peggy was the third of five children, four of whom were girls. They were always known as “the Perkins Girls”, according to Peggy. Church and school activities along with music lessons and many family gatherings are among Peggy’s fond memories of her childhood.
Peggy attended public schools, graduating from Humes High School in 1955. She continued her education at Memphis State University where she earned a B.S. Degree in Elementary Education and a Masters in Special Education with a minor in Journalism. While there, Peggy pledged Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority and was active in the Baptist Student Union. The BSU chose Peggy to be a missionary in California during the summer of 1957.
Well, it is said that opposites attract! Such was the case of the outgoing and friendly Peggy. While out with a group of friends, she met a very shy gentleman, Joe Reynolds. As Peggy states, “it was an immediate, opposite attraction”. After dating for a year, they married on Thanksgiving Day, 1958. Together, Peggy and Joe had four children, three sons and one daughter. There are now ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Sadly, Joe passed away in 1992.
Peggy’s teaching career began in 1958. Although married and with a growing family, Peggy was able to continue teaching and pursue a successful professional career. Peggy says that it was possible because her family worked as a team, each person having responsibility for assigned tasks.
In 1973, Peggy was elected Vice-President of the Memphis Education Association and served as President during the 1976-77 school year. Peggy states, “While serving as a professional educator and not a ‘union leader’, I advocated for the improvement of teaching conditions which were the children’s learning conditions”. She further adds, “When I taught, I individualized my instruction to the students’ needs”. This incorporated using teacher made materials, learning centers, and the media. Peggy was recognized for teaching reading using the newspaper. Because of her novel interventions in teaching, Peggy was requested to conduct many reading workshops. This prompted the writing of a book, “Here’s Something for Johnny to Read and Do”. In 1992, Peggy was awarded “Teacher of the Year” by the American Newspaper Publication Association.
In 1994, Peggy retired from teaching in the Memphis City Schools. She didn’t stay retired long as she expanded her professional career to managing the grant program for teachers offered by the Memphis Rotary Club. After a year, she took a position with Johnson Auxiliary, coordinating volunteers for The City of Memphis Hospital.
Given the opportunity to work with special students, Peggy was once again lured into a teaching position at Olive Branch High School. For eight more years, Peggy was inspired to introduce her innovative approach in teaching life skill classes. She introduced horseback riding, encouraged Special Olympics participation and had a “Spring Fling” for the students.
In 2008, the teaching at Olive Branch ended and another chapter in Peggy’s life was about to begin. While continuing to be requested for workshops, Peggy was conducting reading workshops at Mississippi State University. There she made many friends and one in particular kept insisting she meet her cousin from Texas. With Peggy’s permission, the cousin, Charlie Gatlin, started calling. After a trip to an NCAA basketball tournament in San Antonio, Peggy agreed to meet Charlie at the Cracker Barrel in Fort Worth on her way home.
According to Peggy, “The Cracker Barrel rendezvous went well and we made plans for Charlie to come to Memphis. He came to Memphis, we got acquainted and he met my family. After a whirlwind courtship over the next couple of months, Charlie proposed and I said ‘yes’! Charlie said at our age, we didn’t need to wait too long”.
On August 6, 2008, Charlie and Peggy were married with Dr. Jimmy Latimer officiating. According to Peggy this new chapter in her life would “take a lifelong Memphian to a Texas ranch and to raising miniature horses. We ‘honeymooned’ for 38 days, RVing to California, took a 15-day cruise to Hawaii and then RV’d across the USA to our home. Our Texas life continued for eight years with NASCAR races, motorcycle rallies, winters in Port Aransas, many family reunions and always looking for a new adventure. We loved our Springtown, Texas home.”
Eventually, it came time to downsize. As a member of Central Church in the 80’s, Peggy had heard about Kirby Pines. Little did she dream that she would someday be living here. In 2016, Peggy and Charles moved to a Garden Home at Kirby Pines. Sadly, Charlie passed away in August of 2020. Peggy has endeared herself at Kirby for writing the wonderful biographical sketches of new residents for the Pinecone. According to Peggy, “I’m looking forward to the new normal after COVID-19 is over”. Think POSITIVELY, Peggy!
Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines