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Akron, Ohio



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Manchester High School
437 West Nimisila Road
Akron, OH 44319
(330) 882-3291

  Mary Ellen (Johnson) Stephens -
MHS Class of 1947
  Retired Secretary, Manchester Local Schools

Mary Ellen was a member of just the fourth senior class to graduate from Manchester. Later she became known to thousands of students, working in the high school guidance office. We asked Mary Ellen to share some of her unique Panther perspectives with us.

Your family:

I've been married to Charles H. Stephens for 55 years. He's also a Manchester Class of '47 graduate. We had four children: John, James, Kathleen (deceased in 2001) and Eric. They all attended and graduated from Manchester. John is an electrical engineer, Jim is a mechanical engineer, and Eric works for a heating & air-conditioning company. We have one grandson, who will get his Manchester diploma this year.

Location history:

Both Charles' and my families moved to Manchester at the beginning of our sophomore year. I hated the move for awhile, but got "into it" fairly quickly. We've lived in Manchester ever since.

Occupation history:

I worked in the offices at Firestone for seven years, and then at Manchester Schools - part-time for the clerk of the Board of Education, as a sub in the school offices, and then for Mr. Nolley for three years. After the birth of my fourth child, I went back to work as a secretary in the guidance office for 16 years. I retired in '91, and still miss it after all these now I volunteer in the Nolley School library.

My husband, Charles, worked at Firestone as a pipefitter and skilled-trades foreman for 43 years.

Which teachers or administrators did you most enjoy working with, and why?

I liked working for Mr. Nolley and Mr. France. I don't think there were any of the teachers or administrators that I didn't like, or at least get along with. One of my favorites was Mrs. (Sharon) Hurt; she is one of the greatest people I know. As to why I liked my bosses, I guess because they were kind, considerate and helpful when you needed them.

Do you have any memories about working around so many Manchester students?

I think of many of the young people I knew at the high school, especially now that I volunteer at Nolley, where I see children of students that I knew. In fact, there are several teachers at Nolley who graduated from Manchester. One thing I remember, there were a number of boys and girls who said they couldn't wait to get out of Manchester...but guess what? They came back, and now are active in the community and school.

One experience I remember: I walked by the high school office and saw Mr. (John) McDowell giving my son a paddling for some infraction committed. Mr. McDowell was a great guy!

Interesting activities or travel:

Can't think of anything especially interesting that I've done since graduation, other than working in the district...and raising four children, of course. We haven't done much traveling; Florida a couple of times. Always seems like there were other more pressing things to be done.

Current hobbies / activities:

The only hobby I have is my volunteer work in the library. And I do crochet, knit and make stocking hats to take to the Haven of Rest, and afghans for the Linus program at Children's Hospital.

Favorite teachers from Manchester "old school" era:

Mrs. Glick, my English teacher, was a favorite because she was the one that kind of forced my husband to take me to the Senior Prom. I was class president and didn't have a date; maybe she felt sorry for me. He did take me, and look what happened!

I liked Mr. Nolley, who taught chemistry, and remember how he walked so softly that he'd be standing next to you before you even realized that he was coming. You could get in trouble easily!

Mrs. Scott was a good math teacher, and Mr. Hoover (social studies) was pretty strict. I was a fair student, so I didn't dislike much about school.

Best memories from school:

I remember fondly all the "kids" in the class. We only had 30 - twenty girls and ten boys. As far as I know, we have lost nine of them.

Had a lot of fun at the school sock-hops, even if the girls had to dance with each other because we were short boys.

Thoughts about attending Manchester schools, in general:

After I got over being mad about having to move, I liked Manchester. I still say you get out what you put into school. I didn't go to college because I was offered a job at Firestone when I set up an assembly at school. That $105 a month seemed too good to turn down. Foolish, right? I often think what would've been if I hadn't taken that job and had gone to school. Who knows? Of course, I could have done what my mother did. She started college when I was a senior in high school, and went on to become a teacher for 19 years.

Did you have any favorite "hangouts?"

Does anyone remember the Bow Wow across the street from the old high school?

Favorite TV shows, then and now:

Didn't have a TV when I was in school...but we did survive! I think my parents got one in '52. Now that was a big deal! My favorite shows now are Numbers, Medium, Criminal Minds and ER. My husband says I like the weird ones.

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