I was saddened by the recent death of William Powell, as reported in the April 12 news article “Historian William S. Powell dies at 95.”
In 1975, only months away from graduation and a license to teach school in our state, I was enrolled in Powell’s North Carolina history course at UNC-CH.
I was also working full-time as a cashier in a grocery store east of town. I worked the graveyard shift at the 24-hour retailer the night before his final exam and decided to take a nap before the afternoon assessment. I woke minutes before the scheduled test in my rented room in Carrboro and flew to campus.
I labored foggily over the exam and departed the classroom discouraged and slump-shouldered. The next day, Powell telephoned wanting to know more about my “situation.” He then invited me to his office to take a make-up test. I scored an A.
I learned a lesson from him that day 40 years ago, before I began my own career as a teacher and administrator. I learned from Powell to be open-minded and kind-hearted to those we serve and to provide second chances to allow for their success.
An important history lesson for us all.