TARBORO — In 1981, former students of the Tarboro Colored High School, the W. A. Pattillo High School, and the Princeville Elementary School gathered for their first reunion and in 1983, the alumni association obtained its state charter and was incorporated as the W. A. Pattillo Alumni Association. Since the inception of the alumni association approximately $100,000 in scholarship funds have been awarded to area high school seniors to attend four-year colleges and universities throughout the United States of America.
At its annual meeting on July 30, 2011, new officers were elected with Dr. Fred S. Wood, Jr. selected as the new president. This article introduces Dr. Wood to the Tarboro community.
Although Dr. Wood is a native of Tarboro, he has been a resident of Greensboro, NC, since 1970. He is married to the former Janette Jackson of Greensboro and they have two daughters, Anita and Stacia. They also have a twelve year old grandson, Zenret.
Dr. Wood received a Bachelor of Science degree and two Master of Science degrees from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro. He went on to earn a Doctor of Education degree in Curriculum and Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
From 1967 to his retirement in 2002 he served as an active duty and reserve Army Officer, a teacher and administrator in the Guilford County Schools, and as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, School of Education, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where he also served as the Assistant Dean for the School of Education.
Dr. Wood is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education, and served as a reviewer for the Kappa Delta Pi Record.He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, served as a past president of his Rotherwood Community Organization, is a past member of the Executive Board of the General Greene Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and presently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro.
A retired United States Army Reserve Major, he retired from his position as the Assistant Dean of the School of Education at North Carolina A&T in 2002. In addition to being an avid woodworker and architectural draftsman, he is involved as a consultant in the University of North Carolina System and holds adjunct faculty status at his Alma Mater.
Dr. Wood was gracious in responding to a number of questions viaemail:
CRK - What are some of your memories of attending the W. A. Pattillo High School?
FW - The closeness and friendship of students; the professionalism of faculty and staff. While we were not without “issues and stuff,” there was a oneness that pervaded the school and the school community.
CRK - After graduating from Pattillo, how did Pattillo help you continue your education?
FW - Pattillo grounded me in “myself.” Entering college, I believed in me. That allowed me to address my limitations, knowing that my faith in myself would prevail.
CRK - Who were the most influential teachers you had at Pattillo?
FW - Mrs. Ruth Pattillo put her arms around me one day in fifth grade and said, “Son, keep studying and you can go to any college that you want to.” The concept of college was foreign to me, but I knew that she felt good about me. Mrs. Susanna M. Thomas pushed me to my limits and then some. Mr. George C. Matthewson taught me to appreciate the dignity of honest work and to use my hands as well as my head. In school, out of school, in the community and to this day, Coach Horace B. Hussey has been a positive and appreciated influence in my life – the epitome of what Pattillo gave to all of us.
CRK - What plans do you have for the Pattillo Alumni Association?
FW - I plan to recommend adoption of these four goals at our October Board of Director’s Meeting:
1. Develop a greater appreciation for the association among attendees and graduates that will lead to increased membership.
2. Refocus the Annual Reunion to reflect a celebration and re-connection of schoolmates, classmates, family, friends and community.
3. Provide for the Posterity of the association via interface with agencies that share our beliefs.
4. Develop a greater appreciation for the association as a viable entity in the Tarboro and Edgecombe County communities.
Alumni and community response to Dr. Wood’s election has been positive as exemplified by the following comments.
Ernestine Bullock Johnson (a 1960 Pattillo graduate) says, “Fred Wood as president of the Alumni Association is a positive change that is long over due. He is very knowledgeable, organized, and an excellent speaker. The organization will be brought into the 21st century under his leadership. I am sure that we will witness many constructive changes in the future.”
Dr. Florence A. Armstrong (a 1963 Pattillo graduate) looks forward to strong leadership under Fred Wood. She says, “President Fred Wood has been a faithful and dedicated member of the W. A. Pattillo Alumni Association. He is a problem solver, a progressive and visionary thinker, and a leader with a mission. He has shared his mission with all of his officers and committee members by means of the new organizational structure. He has clearly defined the road to success for the organization. Under his leadership, the association has already moved into the 21st century in its thinking and use of technology. As a problem solver, he has structured the organization to be more friendly for the many alumni living across the nation. They will be better informed and have the opportunity to participate in all activities.”
Ronda Sortino, Principal of the W. A. Pattillo Elementary School says, “Clearly, Dr. Wood is committed to the Tarboro community and the preservation of the history of W.A. Pattillo School. The story of our school and community, so rich in history, will undoubtedly be solidly articulated and dutifully honored under his leadership in the W.A. Pattillo Alumni Association. I am looking forward to learning from Dr. Wood and to forming a partnership with the alumni association.”
.C. Rudolph Knight is a Tarboro native, a retired community college educator, and a research historian. Look for his monthly reports on Edgecombe County’s African-American history on the Community page.