Charlton, Pollard inducted into Texas Hall of Honor

Charlton-Pollard Elementary School Choir Director Cindy Gibson led the children

Two local legends and leaders in education were inducted into the Texas Hall of Honor at the Capitol Rotunda in Austin on Feb. 19 by The Spirit of Star Day Foundation, and elementary choir students from the Beaumont school bearing their names were asked to visit the state’s capitol and celebrate the lives of these historic figures through song in honor of the birth of the Texas government and Black History Month.

Terry Joseph Charlton and Thomas Titus Pollard, pioneers in African-American education, were the new Texas Hall of Honor inductees, and students from Charlton-Pollard Elementary School in Beaumont got to travel to Austin and perform before First Lady of Texas Cecilia Abbott, a former educator herself.

Charlton-Pollard school aide Ron Goodman, who shares the honorees’ passion for educating children, was instrumental in organizing the endeavor and traveled with the children, who got to sightsee in the city, tour the University of Texas campus and the Capitol building, and eat lunch at the Capitol cafeteria with state Rep. Joe Deshotel. Goodman said it was an unforgettable experience for him and the children.

“The experience for the kids was amazing,” said Goodman, who is also an ambassador of the Charlton-Pollard Neighborhood Association. “After talking to some of the kids, some of them would not have been able to visit the Capitol on their own, and a lot of them said they wished their families could have come because it was so much fun. They said it’s an experience they will never forget.”

Goodman said choir director Cindy Gibson led the children in singing four melodies at the event, and then students were invited to sit down with Gov. Greg Abbott and the first lady of Texas.

“Mrs. Abbott was so impressed with the children,” Goodman said. “She was impressed with their intelligence and the questions they asked.”

Charlton and Pollard

Terry Joseph Charlton, a pioneer educator and civic leader, was born May 1, 1874, to Mary Emily Charlton and Charles Napoleon Charlton, a former slave who was educated and reportedly established the first school in Southeast Texas for African-American children along with Woodson Pipkin. The junior Charlton was the first principal of Charlton High School in the North End of Beaumont and later the first principal of the merged Charlton-Pollard High School in Beaumont.

Thomas Titus Pollard was the principal of Pollard High School in Beaumont’s south end and later became the first supervisor of schools in Beaumont after Pollard High burned down and merged with Charlton High in 1900, making it Charlton-Pollard High School.

Several years ago, the high school closed and petitioners asked the school district that an elementary school be named after the two men who made such a difference in local education. Thus, Charlton-Pollard Elementary School was born.

Chaplain Margaret Pugh Bostic, a Charlton-Pollard High School alumna and former educator, gave the benediction at the Feb. 19 event in Austin. She said she is proud to have gone to such a great high school and is proud to represent the school named after the two men recently inducted into the Texas Hall of Honor.

“I bleed blue and white,” Bostic said referring to her alma mater’s colors now displayed at the elementary school, along with her old school’s mascot, Brutus the Bulldog. “I am really pumped up. I want the memory, the legacy of my school to last in Beaumont.”

After Feb. 19, Bostic can feel confident the names of Terry Joseph Charlton and Thomas Titus Pollard will be remembered, not only locally but across the state and the nation.

In celebration of the induction of Charlton and Pollard into the Texas Hall of Honor, Bostic and Charlton-Pollard Elementary School invite the community to a Black History Month program and dinner at the school, located at 1645 Irving St. in Beaumont at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27. The dress is business casual, and the event is free, but donations for biographical bookmarks bearing the images of the honorees are encouraged.

 

Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.

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