Leaving a Legacy Like Granny: Part 2

Last week, I introduced you to Bertha “Granny” Mabry. Granny was a special needssanford final parent that I am highlighting this month for Women’s History Month. You can find what you missed in part 1 here. This week I am glimpsing how Granny’s life changed when she welcomed her last son, Sanford. So as it often does, life took its own turn even for Granny.

Her first job was in a one room schoolhouse in Bartow County. Her daughter tells the story that on her first day of work, the kids told her they had run off three teachers and would be running her off too. Even after being nailed into the outhouse that day Granny wasn’t fazed and didn’t quit. Obviously this was a woman who didn’t scare easily and even though she may not have realized it, that patience and determination would serve her well down the road.

blue quote 2Granny went on teaching and raising her two children with her husband Hagood. She had been teaching 10 years before her youngest son Sanford was born. Unfortunately, Granny experienced complications with her pregnancy and Sanford was born with the disability of mental retardation. I haven’t delved deep into unearthing what or how Granny felt at that time. Nothing in my conversation with my friend paints Granny as a person who would give up easily. I know how I and other parents felt upon receiving news that our child would be different or have special challenges. It hurts. And it hurts deep. But, I wonder if that’s not a turning moment for many. Was it one for Granny? It seems so. Because her life took such a remarkable turn. In 1970, she received a masters’ degree in special education from the University of Georgia. And five years later, she received her Ed.S from there as well. But she didn’t stop there, and continued on doing bigger and better things for children with disabilities. As I read more and more through my notes on Granny’s history, I am just amazed. Instead of giving up on life or Sanford, Granny chose to fight and forge on…

Would you even know how to start a school today? Picture yourself as a woman in the early 60’s determined to do just that. Next week, I’ll lead you deeper into Granny’s path as she and her husband began the Happiness Hill School.


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