“He’s a living, breathing history book.”
It’s a phrase often used to describe Tim Howard, the eighth-grade history teacher at Bagley Middle School, who is also the Murray County historian and a leader in preserving local history.
This time, the words were spoken by Katherine Baxter, a current student of Howard’s. Other students standing nearby quickly agreed. They said they know Howard cares, not just about history but about them, too. He takes an interest in them and pushes them to reach their full potential.
“He teaches things outside the standards,” Cole Cash said. “He teaches stuff he’s not required to that he thinks you just need to know, things you should know.”
Howard, a native of Murray County, has spent all of his teen years and adult life preserving local history. He was one of the youngest people to be involved in the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society, the only student in the organization for many years, according to Ellen Thompson, a past president of the historical society and longtime member. He began working and volunteering at the Chief Vann House while in high school and has worked since then educating people on the historical significance of the home as well as helping to preserve it. He established the first “Friends” group in the state when he formed the Friends of the Vann House in 1989.
For all that Howard has accomplished inside the classroom and out, he was recognized recently by Gov. Nathan Deal as a recipient of a Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities.
Thompson serves on the Georgia Council for the Humanities, but said she wasn’t on the committee who selected recipients.
“I think one of the reasons Tim was selected is because of his passion for preserving local history, both his profession and his hobby,” she said. “It’s what he does every minute of every day.”
“I was proud that out of 15, I was the only school teacher,” Howard said. “Also, I was the only one from northwest Georgia ... I’m glad I’m here to get it. I had some challenges the last couple of years.”
Howard has battled prostate cancer, but since it was found early, he’s been able to overcome it with surgeries and has avoided chemotherapy or radiation treatment. It slowed him down in all his efforts, but he’s picked up the pace again. He plans to resume teaching Murray on My Mind, a class on Murray’s history, this summer.
“He’s a living, breathing history book.”
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