Granny graduates tops in her Calera class

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 28, 2002

The 50-something woman sat and relaxed on her couch. She enjoyed the few hours rest between her two jobs.

Pictures of her grandchildren lined one wall in the small, comfortable room.

The woman, Betty Maddox, could barely hide her joy. She was too excited.

She was about to graduate from high school with the honor of being salutatorian.

&uot;I love to tell people I’m a senior, senior citizen,&uot; said Maddox, laughing. &uot;A lot of my friends told me ‘you’re too old’ (to go back to school), but it doesn’t matter how old you are.&uot;

Maddox dropped out of Prentice High School, now Montevallo Middle School, in 1966 during her senior year.

&uot;The home of the Dragons,&uot; she said. &uot;I’ll never forget that.&uot;

At the time, her mother, a single parent caring for six children, could not afford the white dress, shoes and other expenses required for graduation.

&uot;There was no reason I shouldn’t have graduated,&uot; said Maddox. &uot;I had a semester left. I got mad about it in my mind. We just couldn’t afford it.&uot;

Now Maddox lives in Calera with her grandson who is in the seventh grade.

She said he was part of the reason she ended up going back to finish school.

The devoted grandmother enrolled in the second grade at Calera Elementary during summer school to see what he was being taught so she could help him at home.

A few years later, she approached Calera Christian School, thinking it might be the best for her grandson.

While she was there, an amazing thing happened. She enrolled for school instead.

Norma Alexander, administrator of the school, rememberedthat day.

&uot;She said that she had always wanted her diploma,&uot; said Alexander.

Together they got her old school records and along with the Board of Education, figured out a course of study.

&uot;The grandfather law applied,&uot; said Alexander, who explained that the credits that Maddox needed to complete to graduate were the ones that she would have needed in 1966.

&uot;I took math, English, science and literature,&uot; said Maddox.

She also took a Bible class, a requirement at Calera Christian.

&uot;Ooh,&uot; she said with a twinkle in her eye, &uot;that was my favorite.&uot;

Maddox works the day shift at Briarcliff Nursing Home in Alabaster and the night shift at South Haven Nursing Home in Hoover.

She said she studied her lessons during the nightshift between helping residents at the nursing home. When she got off work in the morning, she proceeded to Calera Christian to take her tests.

&uot;Miss Deborah (my teacher) is a gift from God,&uot; said Maddox. &uot;I had no problems. She would teach me one-on-one if I needed help. I even went to her house a few times.&uot;

This year’s salutatorian grinned and said, &uot;I had no idea I was going back (to school). It’s a dream come true. Education is such a blessing.&uot;

Maddox chuckled and said her grandson often laughs and says to her, &uot;Granny, you’ll do anything.&uot;