Monument recognizes Pearl Stephens as an education pioneer

wcrenshaw@macon.comMay 17, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Until 1949, there were no school buildings for black children in Houston County to attend.

“We had to have school in the churches back in those days,” said Ada Lee.

But one teacher, Pearl Stephens, decided to do something about that. She donated an acre and a half of her land on South Davis Drive to be the site of the first real school for black children.

The original Pearl Stephens School was a two-room, wooden building that opened in 1949 on Clay Street, just south of Warner Robins High School. Saturday, descendants of Stephens dedicated a monument to her at the site of the original school.

Lee said Stephens was her first teacher, and she remembers Stephen’s husband bringing Stephens to the church on a wagon.

“I had to walk five miles to get an education,” Lee said at the ceremony. “I would like to say to the children today, you are blessed to have a school to attend and buses to ride to school.”

Houston County school Superintendent Robin Hines said he could think of many “giants” in education in the county.

“But if I had to think of one name that epitomized education in Houston County, it would be Pearl Stephens,” he said. “She knew that education was the way for a better life for everybody.”

The monument was paid for by a fundraising effort by friends and family of Stephens. The original building was open for only five years before the school moved to a larger building.

Warner Robins City Councilman Mike Davis said when he was a rookie firefighter in the early 1970s, the fire department burned the original Pearl Stephens building as a training exercise and to clean up the area.

“We had no idea of the historical significance of that building at that time,” he said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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