0407ImogeneAUDImogene Scott recalls her struggles working at Green Hunter Nursery.
Fair Street-Butler High Schools Alumni Association Inc.: Catch up with former classmates from Fair Street and E.E. Butler high schools
Imogene Scott said her 90th birthday was just any other day for her.
But Scott celebrated it with her husband, the Rev. Robert Scott, who was excited for her special day, Imogene said.
"I've had so many that there wasn't much excitement," she said about her birthday on March 31. "My husband was carrying on and telling everybody." Many longtime Gainesville residents would know Scott by her former position as the director of Green Hunter Nursery, a position she held for 25 years. Scott began at the nursery two years after the school opened in 1952.
Scott said when she was 23 she moved to Gainesville from Commerce and she later taught at the preschool briefly before attending continuing education courses at Spelman College. She then served as director until the school closed.
Scott said the Green Hunter Nursery was opened because there was nowhere else for African-American children to go to preschool.
"By kindergarten they were doing the alphabet and numbers," Scott said. "The others ladies from the (Junior Service) League would come in and teach dance. ... They filled in when we needed someone."
The school was named for Hunter because of how instrumental he had been in the Gainesville community. Hunter founded St. John Baptist Church, served as the first moderator of the Northwestern Baptist Association and began the Northwestern School, a private school for black children.
Hunter's name appears in other places in the area, too. Green Hunter Homes was named in his honor, and now Green Hunter Homes are officially called Atlanta Street Apartments, according to the Gainesville Housing Authority.
About 52 children were taught each year at the nursery, which opened in October 1952. It was the first major project of the Junior Service League, now the Gainesville-Hall County Junior League.
Emory Turner, 61, began attending Green Hunter Nursery in 1952 and said the school was a big part of his success in education. Turner later worked in the manufacturing industry before retiring.
"We learned through songs," Turner said. "One thing that I really remember in all the classes, we performed doing skits and songs. It was a learning process ... learned manners and etiquette." Other children he went to school with went on to be doctors, lawyers and teachers.
Turner said he remembered Scott explaining to parents how discipline and education start at home.
"You don't just send your child to school. ... The parent has to be part of that child," said Turner, who later attended Fair Street and E.E. Butler High Schools.
The school charged parents $15 a week but closed in April 1978 because the nursery was losing money and more preschool programs were opening in Gainesville and Hall County.
When the Green Hunter Nursery closed its doors, Scott decided to teach children in her home.
"I ran a nursery at home," said Scott, who has one daughter, Jackie Wade, who lives in Tuscaloosa, Ala. "I kept six children. ... I had a room set up as a school."
Scott said parenting a child in school today isn't that different. Her advice for parents today after helping hundreds of kids get a jump start on their education — "I would start early helping them at home ... there is just so much you can do at home to help them," Scott said.
The days of working with the children at Green Hunter Nursery, she said, created memories she kept for the rest of her life.
She said she still recalls taking the children on field trips around Gainesville, taking day trips to the lake, going to the movies or visiting other kindergarten classes.
"The kids kept me so alive," Scott said. "The thoughts are coming back all the time."