Clark gave steno pad hope
Published 4:12 pm Monday, June 1, 2009
Anyone who has seen me attending meetings around town or attending special events has more than likely seen me with a steno book in my lap.
Although I’m very grateful that companies still make steno pads, these little notebooks are rarely, if ever, used for their original purpose.
When I began attending the Escambia-Brewton Area Vocational Center (now known as the Escamiba-Brewton Career Technical Center) 32 years ago, a wonderful woman, not much older than her students at the time, used those wonderful little notebooks to teach shorthand.
For those who are younger than 30, you probably don’t even know what shorthand is or what it ever existed.
During my two years at EBAVC, Betty Clark molded my nimble fingers into instruments that could type up to 80 words per minute, work a 10-key adding machine like nobody’s business and even use a writing instrument to make chicken scratch something understandable to my mind.
(By the way, Mrs. Clark was notorious for putting the “what does EBAVC stand for” question on just about every test we took in her class.)
During my time with Mrs. Clark, I learned the value of being prepared for a job and to do the job well. Not only did she teach us the proper way to load paper into a typewriter and just exactly where the salutation and address should go, she taught us to respect the people who would be receiving those letters.
She did more than teach us how to prepare for an interview. She explained the importance of proper dress right down to the shoes and perfume when it comes time to sit down with a potential boss.
To many of her students, myself included, Mrs. Clark became more of a teacher. She was easy to talk with but stern enough to make sure we didn’t slack off on our assignments. Through those actions she was able to teach by example how it is possible to enjoy a job while maintaining respect, responsibility and comfort with a boss or fellow worker.
When I attended the Business and Office Education classes from 1977-1979, Betty Clark was the most important person in my life (aside from my family and my boyfriend). Even though I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (sometimes I still don’t know), she was there to guide me and prepare me for a career as best she could. She taught me how to operate office machinery, take shorthand and even how to answer the business telephone properly.
Next week, the staff and administration at the Escambia-Brewton Career Techinical Center will host a retirment celebration for Betty Clark at the end of her 35 year career at the facility. I’m sure she would love to see some of her old students before she leaves the classroom. I’m sure it would give her some joy to see where we have all landed over the years. It may even give her a sense of pride to see how well we’ve all done.
Over the past 30 years since I left her class, I have held a number of jobs that put the skills she taught me to the test. I know that she has been aware of some of the positions I’ve held in those years. I hope I’ve made her proud. I’m certainly proud to know her.
Lisa Tindell is news editor for The Brewton Standard. She can be reached by email at lisa.tindell@