My Interview with Mrs. Dycie (1917-2008) by Donny Bailey Seagraves

Dycie Hancock Campbell Schneider, Donny Bailey Seagraves' Second Grade Teacher, whose tragic loss of her first husband inspired Donny to write the children's middle-grade novel, Gone From These Woods.

Mrs. Dycie Hancock Campbell Schneider, a native of Clarke County, started her teaching career at Oconee Street School in 1938. She was my second grade teacher in the 1958-1959 school year. I knew her as Mrs. Campbell. 

"I'd just graduated from the University of Georgia in June," she remembered. "Back then, the city and county schools were separate, and city school teachers got an extra supplement that county teachers didn't get. So, of course, there was a lot of competition for city teachers' jobs.

"There were only two openings in the city schools that year, and they weren't taking teachers without at least a year's teaching experience," Mrs. Campbell recalled. "I was afraid I wouldn't get a job, but then my adviser at the university, "Dr. Rachel Sutton (was murdered in April 1987), put in a good word for me, and I was hired.

"At first, I was a cadet teacher--it was kind of like being a teacher's aide, I guess. I helped Miss Mary Woods, and I filled in when one of the regular teachers was sick. After Christmas, Bonnie Green, the fourth grade teacher, left, and I took over for her."

Even though Mrs. Campbell came from a family of teachers, she didn't plan on following in her family's footsteps. "I had three sisters who were teachers, but I thought it would be just great to be a secretary," she recollected, laughing. "But when I told them my plans, they all said, 'Hey, you can't do that. You've got to be a teacher, like us.' So I went to college and, after four years of school, I sort of got the teaching bug."

Mrs. Campbell didn't plan on becoming an elementary teacher, either. "I started out to teach high school," she said. "Then one day they sent us out to a high school to help give a test. The regular teacher could barely control the class--she couldn't do a thing with them. And I thought, 'How's a young sprite like me going to do it?' So I went back and studied elementary education, and I never regretted changing."

Still, things weren't easy for Mrs. Campbell when she first started teaching at Oconee Street school. "I used to come home each fall and tell my mother, 'I'm going to quit and get a job checking out groceries!' But, then I'd finally get the children doing things my way, and everything would settle down.

"We didn't have lunch rooms, school buses, or teachers' lounges when I first started teaching. You were with your group for the entire day. But we had bottles of milk and snacks, and we got to go home at 1:00 p.m. Some days, the teachers would nearly knock the children down getting out the door!

"Oconee Street School was part of a close-knit community back then," she said. "When we disciplined out students, the parents backed us up. And we used to do home visits every month and make a report. But when city and county schools consolidated, we stopped doing home visits because the children's homes were so scattered." 

Just fifty-five when she stopped teacher in 1973, Mrs. Campbell said, "I was ready to retire. Now, every year on the first day of school, the bus brakes squeak and wake me up, and I just laugh, turn over, and go back to sleep."

This interview with Dycie Hancock Campbell Schneider appeared in the book, Across The River: The People, Places, and Culture of East Athens by Maxine Pinson Easom and Patsy Hawkins Arnold, pages 478-479. This article, in a different format, appeared previously in the Athens Banner-Herald/Athens Daily News Classic Scene Sunday Magazine.