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Black History Month

By Empriss Campbell
By ecampbell@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - A legacy of leadership is displayed on John Werthing's garage wall, full of pictures and awards presented to him when he left Parkway Junior High School.

After 45 years of service in the West Tennessee School System, Werthing is most proud of the students he taught.

"I even see students now that I taught years ago when I was principal that always greet me when ever they see me," said Werthing.

Werthing said he never thought of himself as a black principal neither did he see color when integrating the new school.

"Students were just students at the time I didn't pay any attention to the color at all we just organized the school," said Werthing.

Werthing started his career teaching at Montgomery High School in Lexington and later became principal of four schools in Madison County.

"I learned people and students wanted the same thing they want an education they want to get along in school they wanted to learn so I felt that most of them were motivated to do the same thing," said Werthing.

Werthing and his wife, Sallie who is also a retired Madison County teacher, have 90 years of teaching experience between them.

"He actually got credit for two years in service which made him 45 years but I actually taught 45 years," said Sallie Werthing.

With the words, "Have a good rest of the day!" principal Werthing sent every student off with a wish of happiness.

"I just saw them as children who wanted to go to school and attend school and enjoy school and we treated them that way."

Werthing retired in 1997 from Northeast Middle School. Werthing said he taught Circuit Court Judge Nathan Pride and Lane College President Wesley McClure.