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Eleanor Clyburn: Arkadelphia Badger Becomes Lifelong Bison

2013 Honorary Alumni Mrs. Eleanor Copeland Clyburn
2013 Honorary Alumni Mrs. Eleanor Copeland Clyburn

Eleanor Copeland graduated from Arkadelphia High School, “Home of the Badgers” in 1961. After graduating from Henderson State Teachers College in 1965, she answered an advertisement for an elementary teaching position in Carlisle.

After arriving at Oscar Washington’s filling station on the Greyhound bus, she was met by Superintendent H.C. Dial. He took young, brand new teacher on a tour of the Carlisle schools and her potential classroom, which was still under construction. At the end of the day, Mr. Dial offered her the position teaching second grade. The next day, Eleanor called Mr. Dial back and accepted his offer. That started what has been a 48-year journey for the young teacher.

When Miss Copeland came to Carlisle to teach second grade, she had the intention of teaching a few years and then moving on to bigger and better things. However, she made great friends those first few years, loved her kids and loved teaching here. So, Carlisle became her home. Her colleagues in second grade were Mrs. June House and Mrs. R.H. McDonald. They were great support to her at the end of the first year when she cried so hard when school was out and had to pass her kids on to a new grade. Her principal, Mrs. Perry Lilly said, “Eleanor, if you are going to stay in the teaching profession, you can’t do this every year.”

In 1975, Miss Copeland married Pat Clyburn, CHS class of 1960. In 1981, they were blessed with a little Bison, James Brock Clyburn. In 1991, life even became busier when Pat ran for Mayor of Carlisle. The Clyburns served their community as Mayor and First Lady for two terms from 1991-1998. They worked for eight years trying to improve Carlisle along with supporting Brock through football, basketball, track, band and other activities.

When Brock entered high school, attending ballgames, fundraising dinners, building homecoming floats, making money for prom and pouring a class sidewalk were some of the activities that are fondly remembered. In April 2000, just weeks before graduation, Pat suffered a sudden heart attack and passed away. Those few weeks afterward were filled with sorry and joy as Brock attended his senior prom, graduated, and prepared to leave for college.

In 1994, after 30 years of blessing and guiding young Bison students, Mrs. Clyburn passed the baton to a new generation and began retirement. She continued working at Golden Years Manor until 2010 and still volunteers at both Golden Years, now known as Red Oak Manor, and Chambers Nursing Home. There is hardly a day that goes by that she doesn’t run in to a former student. She now has former students teaching at Carlisle High School, Carlisle Elementary School and in many other districts around the state and nation.

Eleanor regrets that she didn’t start a journal in 1965 of the funny things that happened and the funny things the kids said over her 30 years of teaching. She says that she worked with great teachers, great principals and superintendents, great parents and the greatest kids. She is so proud of all of her students a for the opportunity to teach them and be a part of their lives. In addition to teaching, she has students who have become doctors, plastic surgeons, nurses, business professionals, coaches, pastors, bank presidents, farmers and great moms and dads. She says Thank You to all who have helped make the last forty-eight years in Carlisle so wonderful.

For her dedication to the students of Carlisle Elementary School, and her active participation as a member of the Carlisle community for the last 48 years, the Carlisle High School Alumni Association is pleased to name Mrs. Eleanor Copeland Clyburn an Honorary Alumni of Carlisle High School. Mrs. Clyburn will be recognized during homecoming weekend, Oct. 11-12. There will be a memorabilia display honoring Mrs. Clyburn set up at the Museum of Carlisle History during the week of homecoming. The public is invited to tour the museum to see all of the displays. The museum will be open on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 8-9, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., on Thursday, Oct. 10 from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on Friday, Oct. 11 from 9:00 a.m. until after the football game. You can also visit the museum on Saturday morning from 9 a.m. until noon.

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