published on 07/30/2010
Local Resident Carla Merrell Receives Two Scholarships
sigmtn.com staff writer
The Tennessee Association for Family and Community Education (TAFCE) honored local resident Carla Merrell with this year’s Kate Bagnall Book Scholarship. This $500 scholarship is given to one Family Community Education (FCE) member who desires to further his/her education. The Kate Bagnall Scholarship is sponsored by Williamson County through the University of Tennessee and is open only to members of the Family Community Education Club in Tennessee for the purpose of secondary education. Applicants must be active members of the FCE and serve on local, regional, or state boards. They must also be enrolled in a degree program or seeking a vocational certificate and each winner must maintain passing grades upon receipt of the scholarship. Carla Merrell was the first resident of Sequatchie County to be awarded this scholarship.
Carla is enrolled at Chattanooga State Community College where she is seeking an Associate’s Degree in teaching. She was inducted into the Alpha Beta Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa on October 12, and has remained on the dean’s list. Recently Carla received a second honor when she was awarded a $1,000 scholarship by the TAFCE.
A native of Carrolton, GA, Carla and her husband moved to the area in 2000 when her husband, Byron, began working at the Signal Mountain Nursery. They rented a house in Dunlap with their daughter, Rachel until they could find a house on the ridge near Byron’s work. One day she and Rachel saw a house for sale and liked it but before they could tell Byron, he told her he had found a house he liked and wanted her to see it. When he took her to the house, it was the same one she had seen earlier that week. And so they moved into their new home on the Fourth of July weekend.
That next Saturday, they saw the sign for the Big Country Breakfast at the Lone Oak Community Center, which was not far from their home. Seeking friends, they not only found a delicious breakfast but a wonderful network of friends and they knew they were home. Carla has been homeschooling Rachel her whole life and because of this, Rachel has grown up at the Lone Oak Community Center (LOCC). She usually attends all the FCE meetings which are held the last Monday of each month at 12:00 noon at the LOCC. Each month a program is given on a topic designated by the TAFCE. Carla has taught Family Life and Housing, Energy, and Environment among other programs since joining the FCE club. In addition she assists in the GED program at the LOCC.
Being a part of the Lone Oak Community is important to Carla and her family. The men and women of the Community Center are role models for she and her daughter; they are like family; and as Carla says, “They are my biggest cheerleaders.” Now that Rachel is 14 years old, she is beginning to think about what she wants to do when she grows up and this has given Carla food for thought. What would she do once her daughter started college and she no longer needed to homeschool her? She spent her life educating her daughter and now her daughter and husband are encouraging Carla to do this for herself. In 2012, Rachel hopes to enter the Chattanooga State Middle College program and at the same time, Carla expects to have completed her associate’s degree from Chattanooga State and then continue with the very exclusive program where Chattanooga State partners with Tennessee Tech. Here she will get the second two years of a degree in teaching to be fully qualified to teach. Carla’s goal is to teach K-6th, more especially kindergarten, first or second grade at a local Signal Mountain or Sequatchie County school. “I want to teach in my community so that I see my students outside the classroom as well as in it.”
When she is not homeschooling her daughter, volunteering at the LOCC, assisting in the GED classes, and serving on the FCE club, she works part-time as a preschool teacher at Wayside Presbyterian Church. I think the entire Signal Mountain community would join me and the members of the FCE who nominated Carla for these scholarships in saying that she is worthy of such honors and congratulate her and wish her much luck in her education endeavors.