Imagining a life without teachers is impossible for Louise Tarver Jackson.
"I don't know any profession someone had that didn't have a teacher," said the retired Richmond County educator.
For more than 40 years, Mrs. Jackson spent hours educating and training children. When she retired, she decided to help young people both in the community and at Paine College.
Last month, Mrs. Jackson was honored at The Kresge Foundation's fourth annual African-American Donors Reception in Atlanta for donating $250,000 to Paine College. It's a gift she said she feels obligated to repay because of the impact her alma mater had in her life.
"To whom more is given, more is required," the 1943 Paine alumna said. "To think if Paine College had not been located here, I would not have been privileged to accomplish my hopes and dreams of receiving academic training above the eighth grade."
Before schools were desegregated, Mrs. Jackson said, her prospects for receiving a high school education were limited.
"Since there was no free public high school in Augusta in the 1940s that would allow me to attend, Paine College came to the rescue by having a laboratory high school on its campus where people like me could be trained and prepared to enroll in colleges and universities," she said. "I cannot list all of the endless ways Paine College prepared and nurtured me."
Growing up as a low-income pupil in Augusta, Mrs. Jackson said, she and her older sister, Rosa Tarver Beard, had to learn life's lessons at an early age. Their father, a widower, worked in Detroit trying to earn enough money to send his daughters to school.
But like most teens with cash, Mrs. Jackson said, she would sometimes run out of money because she would try to help her friends. As a result, she had to suffer the consequences.
"I passed out in class because I had no food to eat in four days. I only had drinking water," she said. "Dr. Ethel Peters, a college physician, was summoned to my class to revive me. She revived me quickly and pretended she needed to give me a more thorough examination in her office. Instead, she drove me to her home and fed me a full meal in a nonembarrassing manner.
"After that, she would ask me and my sister if we had anything to eat."
Mrs. Jackson said acts like these made it impossible to forget how she and her sister were cared for.
"Paine College had the most caring, competent and qualified professors in the United States. They made sure that every student's needs were met. (They cared) for each one as loving parents would have done."
Mrs. Jackson, who graduated as salutatorian from high school and college, received a bachelor of arts degree in natural sciences and health in 1943. At Wayne State University in Detroit, she received a master of arts degree with honors in early childhood education. She taught at Floyd, Hornsby and Craig elementary schools.
"Paine College helped me, and it gave me the feeling of helping others. If it weren't for Paine College, I would not have been able to send my daughter to school," she said, referring to her only child, Anita Jackson, a doctor who practices in North Carolina.
"I want Paine to stay the best," she said.
Reach Quandra F. Collins at 823-3708 or firstname.lastname@example.org.