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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Thomasville teacher leaves learning legacy

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mable Symons
GON COUNTY -- Freshman students from Oregon County have first dibs on a scholarship at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. It is the Mable Symons Woodside Memorial Scholarship.

Mable Symons was born in 1884 in England. Her family immigrated to the United States coming through Ellis Island. They eventually settled in Jackson, Mo., where her father owned and operated a dry goods store.

Symons attended Central Methodist College in Fayette, Mo., earning her master's degree in English in 1903.

She taught school for several years at Lake Village, Ark., and in 1907 moved to Jonesboro to teach high school.

In 1910 Symons was recruited as one of the first faculty members at the First District State Agriculture and Mechanical School that eventually became Arkansas State University.

In 1914 Symons married John C. Woodside and moved to Thomasville, Mo. She and her husband were instrumental in establishing Thomasville High School in 1921. Her assignments at Thomasville included teaching English, biology, math, history as well as administrative duties.

A letter from Woodside's son, John A Woodside, who now resides in Lufkin, Texas, said his mother was very dedicated to education.

He said after having four children she returned to teaching at Thomasville in 1928.

"I remember that many of her former students came to her during summer breaks to be tutored at no cost, in their college subjects," Woodside said.

He said she never turned down a request for tutoring. "When a student had a question about a subject, or didn't understand something, she was there to help, even up to the time she was 88 or 89 years old," Woodside said.

Woodside retired from teaching at Thomasville in 1954 after teaching nearly 40 years in Arkansas and Missouri. She served 15 years as librarian of the Thomasville Library. She died in 1976.

Woodside's son, and his late wife Donna, established a scholarship endowment in 1988 at Arkansas State University to honor the memory of his mother.

The scholarship was first awarded in 1990. The general academic scholarship benefits incoming freshmen students, with a preference to students from Oregon County who have a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. The award is $1,000 a semester for four years.

If there are no eligible students from Oregon County students from Butler, Carter, Douglas, Dunklin, Howell, Mississippi, New Madrid, Ozarks, Pemiscott, Ripley, Scott, Stoddard and Taney counties may apply. The scholarship is renewable for up to three years.

Woodside said the scholarship is a wonderful memorial to his mother. "It continues the tradition of helping students in earning their college education, and gives more growing power to ASU and the region," he said. Woodside, himself, is a graduate of ASU earning bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry.

Oregon County students wanting to learn more about the Mable Symons Woodside Memorial Scholarship should contact their high school counselor or ASU at 870-972-2310.

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