Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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January 7, 2013

Column: THE CAREER PLANNING ACADEMY: Before she died, hard-boiled educator Dr. Edith Marie "Mimi" Pewitt raised troubled young minds and transformed the lives of many Fort Worth ISD students

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FORT WORTH —

And, as far as the student body was concerned, it was the original melting pot. There students from all races, religions, and creeds. Among them were African Americans, Caucasians, Latinos, and Asians. Some were straight and others gay. There were several different social classes at play.

Before the first class bell rang each morning, a few kids would sneak a smoke outside, while others would practice their break dancing moves inside by the cafeteria.

The Career Planning Academy admitted students with emotional, educational, and/or legal problems. I was one of the few students actually enrolled there by parents.

Dr. Pewitt made it a point to work closely with those who needed her the most — such as Johnny, a student in his 20s who had been forced by life's obstacles to drop out of school earlier.

When Johnny was accepted to the Career Planning Academy, it was a second chance to get his diploma and do something with his life. Dr. Pewitt helped him make the most of that chance. Johnny walked across the graduation stage with me in 1985 (at age 22!) and I know that was a huge point of pride, both for him and for Dr. Pewitt.

There was a lot of teaching to be done at CPA. One good friend of mine, for instance, could barely read when he first attended school there. The teachers there worked with him until those reading skills were up to par and he graduated.

Why was I there? My maternal grandfather Ray Miller, my PePa, had died on Christmas Day 1983. In his absence I was trapped in kind of an emotional tunnel.

I refused to return to a boarding school I had been attending and insisted on returning to school in Fort Worth. My Mom and Dad agreed to enroll me at a smaller, less-hectic Fort Worth school —  in this case, the Career Planning Academy.

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