By MIA BASS
Cherokee Bend School won’t be the same without Mr. Glenn Rice. Generations of students can tell you stories they heard from him that have stuck with them decades later. Like the one he tells at The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont about the little girl who died in a forest fire and was buried there.
An iconic storyteller and a stickler for the “ancient” form of cursive writing, the retiring teacher leaves a great legacy of small moments that have touched his students.
Rice has served as a fifth grade teacher at Cherokee Bend School since 1972. In his 39-year career, Rice has taught more than 1,000 students in his homeroom class alone.
“When you think Cherokee Bend School, you think Mr. Rice,” said Beth Shea, a former student of Rice’s and current CBS Librarian.
“He’s devoted his life to these kids,” Kathryn Reaves said. Reaves had Rice in the fifth grade and is now the proud parent of one of Rice’s last class of fifth graders. Rice never had children of his own and instead made his life’s work teaching his students.
Rice was a teacher who believed in the mission of Cherokee Bend School. He was heavily influential in teaching the Fair Oaks Adventure Curriculum. No other school works with this curriculum, which includes a yearly trip Rice led to Tremont.
This weeklong trip is something Rice’s past students remember long into adulthood. Rice captivates his students by talking about a colonial settlement in Tremont as well as its forest.
“If you were stuck on a bus in an ice age, Mr. Rice would make you laugh,” fellow teacher Meredith Attar recalled one of her fifth grade students saying.
One of Rice’s favorite parts about the Tremont trip is the pictures. Last year, his 1000 pictures had to be whittled down to 300 for the slideshow presentation documenting the trip.
A graduate of Shades Valley High School, Rice attended the University of Montevallo, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Samford University. His storytelling tendencies are just one of the things he’s known for.
“You know, if he could write a book, he’d write encyclopedias,” Reaves said with a laugh. Younger siblings of Rice’s current students hate they won’t be able to hear all the stories that inspired their older siblings.
As a resident of Cahaba Heights, Rice lost many of the trees in his front yard in the April 27 storms. Knowing how much Rice cares for nature, parents and students began taking up donations to replant trees. It was a small way of showing what Rice meant to each of them. Since Rice announced his retirement, many former students have come forward to thank him for the impact he made on their lives from an early age.
Rice is also an active member at Canterbury United Methodist Church, serves as a Sunday school teacher and volunteers at Children’s Hospital. With more free time, he looks forward to spending his retirement with more time at the Tremont Institute he cares for so much.
Rice leaves a legacy in the Mountain Brook community that will continue to ripple for many years to come. More than 1,000 students. Countless stories and laughs. And maybe some nightmares about the little girl who died in the forest fire at Tremont.
Village Living thanks each of you for your dedication to our schools for so many years!
Connie Allman- Math, High School- 20 years
Wren Bretz- 5th grade Crestline- 38 years
Dwight Brown- Choral, High School- 30 years
Patricia Bryant- Speech Therapist, Junior High and High School- 31 years
Edith Chandler- CNP Worker, High School- 21 years
Margaret Clark- Career Tech, High School- 32 years
Yvette Faught- Principal, Brookwood Forest- 41 years
Nelda Glaser- Math, Junior High- 38 years
Beverly Guerdat- Preschool, Mountain Brook- 30 years
Debra Hamilton- 3rd grade, Crestline- 30 years
Jeannie Harrison- Media Specialist, Junior High- 35 years
Kay Howell- Academic Support, Crestline- 30 years
Roger Hunter- Maintenance, Central Office- 36 years
Mary Jackson- 4th grade, Brookwood Forest- 20 years
Donna Jones- Special Education Aide, High School- 13 years
Jane Jones- 6th grade, Crestline- 35 years
David Key- Assistant Principal, Crestline- 40 years
Vicki Lewis- 4th grade, Crestline- 41 years
JoAnn Marler- Administrative Assistant, Central Office- 28 years
Kathy Peerson- Secretary, Brookwood Forest- 18 years
Diane Reese- Spanish, Junior High- 18.5 years
Glenn Rice- 5th grade, Cherokee Bend- 46 years
Connie Shaw- Math, High School- 29 years
Jackie Simons- Assistant Superintendent- 40 years
Jane Smith- 6th grade, Crestline- 38.5 years
Melinda Storey- Gifted Teacher, Mountain Brook- 35 years
Kay Wilks- Administrative Assistant Central Office- 19 years
Peggy (Margaret) Young- 6th grade, Cherokee Bend- 26 years