In the years prior to 1942, all black students with a desire to achieve a high school education had to go outside of Weakley County. This hardship caused many able students to end their education.
In 1942, the county established the first and only black high school in Weakley County. This was largely though the efforts of Mr. R. A. Stewart, who was the Principal of the School in Martin. He and the staff designed a curriculum that would prepare students for college.
The School had its first two graduates in 1944, Ozzie Nunley and James Mathis. The school became a four year high school during the war years of World War II, and the newest and most powerful weapons were the Bomber. The school choose this name for teams and symbol. The students picked Green and Gold as school colors.
At the end of the 1945 - 1946 school year, Mr. R. A. Stewart resigned and Mr. Stamps was principal. Mr. Stamps made improvements in many areas, but he only served one year as Principal.
The school and community was fortunate to have Mr. D. E. Henderson as Principal. Under his leadership we added quality courses to the school curriculum. Mr. Henderson helped with the purchased of getting a new building with quality materials. The class of 1952 was the last class to graduate fro the new building. Mr. D. E. Henderson resigned the because of illness.
In the fall of 1954, Mr. A. P. Nunn became principal of Weakley County Training School. He was dedicated to the school and community. He was able to bring improvement to all departments of the school, the Home Economics Department improved and also the Science Department. After six years he resigned, and in 1960 Mr. H. T. Connor became principal. Under his leadership, the school truly became a quality school with top curriculum. Mr. Connor became a strong community leader. That inspired many black youth of the county. He was the fifth and last principal of the High School. In 1966, the last class with 29 students graduated.
Integration had reached Weakley County. The school became Martin Jr. High School, and Mr. Connor became the first principal of the Jr. High School. Much credit for the smoothness of integration is given to his leadership.
Over the 24 year period, Weakley County Training School had many outstanding classroom teachers that contributed to the success of the school. We all remember Miss P. M. Hayes, who served under all five of the principals and was Assistant Principal under many. Then there was Mrs. Stewart and Miss E. B. Buren, who taught high school English and started a Library in their spare moments. They directed plays and played music.
Mrs. F. E. Royster became the first Home Economics teacher and was followed by Miss Inell Haden and Miss. Norma Ervin. They never had the proper material, but were able to teach a well rounded program that inspired the youth.
Mr. Sam W. Beasley was the first man ever hired that was not a principal. (He later became the first black President of the Tennessee Teacher Association). He was followed by Mr. C. C. Robinson. These men taught a full class load and started a Physical Education (P. E.) program, and coached two sports in the days before Assistant Coaches.
Black people of the Nation, State and Weakley County had fought long and hard for integration. In 1966 integration came to Weakley County and a tradition ended. We were proud that this goal was reached, but still sad to see a tradition end.
Information submitted by Willis Brown, Sr. for Weakley County Training School booklet.
Mr. R. A. Stewart `1942 - 1946
Mr. S. Stamps 1946 - 1947
Mr. D. E. Henderson 1947 - 1952
Mr. A. P. Nunn 1952 - 1960
Mr. H. T. Conner 1960 - 1966
Mrs. Mary Stewart
Miss Fannie M. Chandler
Mrs. Eddie B. Buren Clark
Mrs. F. E. Royster
Mrs. Annie M. Templeton
Mrs. D. E. Henderson
Mrs. R. C. Warford
Miss Inell Hayden
Miss D. D. Demaree
Mr. Charles C. Robinson
Miss Pearlie M. Hayes
Mrs. A. J. Armstrong
Mrs. Florence B. Conner
Mrs Annie L. Arnold
Mr. D. E. Henderson, Jr.
Mr. K. Young
Mr. R. R. Parks
Mrs. L. S. Atkins
Mr. D. Greene
Mrs. Norma Ervin Jones
Mr. P. Moss
Mr. R. M. Bowman
Mr. S. W. Beasley
Charlie Moore - Cook
Lula - Custodian
Fannie Crockett - Cook
Ruby Dinwiddie - Cook
Robert Former - Bus driver
Charlie Lee Edmontson - Bus driver
Perkin Atkins - Bus driver
Eller Wease Polk - Cook
Weakley County Alumni Association Board Members (Past & Present)
Willis Brown, Sr.* Robert Hogard* Mary Jean Scott
Ann Brown Imogene Chandler* Thomas Tansil, Sr.
Shirley Lenoir Edward Crockett, Jr.* Mae Tansil
Amy Lawler James Hamilton, Sr. Tara Tansil-Gentry
Ann Halliburton* Willie Royster Johnny Shanklin
Ann Brown Bob Wallace Smith* Vera Shanklin
Beverly Claybrooks Ruby D. Willamson Nicole Claybrooks
Marchell Gardner Alma Carter Doris Edwards
Orrin Cowley Kenneth Irvine
A current look at the Weakley County Training School building. Video created by Mr. Robert Nunley and published on September 28, 2012.