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Grad From The Inner City Honors Her Tough Love Teacher

At UC’s December Commencement, a UC grad and alum of the Cincinnati Public Schools honors a former teacher for her discipline and support that has spanned generations.

Date: 11/22/2005
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
UC ingot Yvonne Dawson is graduating from UC with an associate’s degree in religious studies and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. But she says her first experience with law and order came from “Ms. Eby,” her English teacher at Porter Junior High School. “A white woman in an inner-city school, her voice was as loud as a lion, her stump was as hard as thunder, but her heart was as sweet as cotton candy,” Yvonne, 38, says.

Yvonne Dawson, left, and her mentor, Dater High School Principal Beverly Eby.
Yvonne Dawson, left, and her mentor, Dater High School Principal Beverly Eby.

“The biggest students in the school respected her. They worked. You didn’t come into her class slacking. She wouldn’t have any of that.”

It was a lesson Yvonne would never forget. Her touching story made her one of four UC graduates selected to honor a Tristate teacher who guided the journey of a student to a higher education. Yvonne will present Dater High School Principal Beverly Eby with a $1,000 UC scholarship at the University of Cincinnati Autumn Commencement Ceremony on Dec. 10.  Eby in turn will select a student who’s entering UC during the 2006-2007 academic year to receive the scholarship.

Yvonne says Ms. Eby cared for every student in her school, “even those who made her days hard. She would sponsor kids. She would buy them shoes. She always came through when I needed her most,” says Yvonne, who continues to reside in the West End of Cincinnati where she grew up.

Dr. Eby, a UC alumna, talks about the teaching profession with a group of first-year students in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services.
Dr. Eby, a UC alumna, talks about the teaching profession with a group of first-year students in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services.

“There are kids who will come to school because they are hungry, and they know they can get a couple of extra Pop-Tarts to tie them through the weekend,” Beverly Eby said, as she addressed a group of UC first-year education students about the teaching profession during a UC visit in November. “There are also kids who will not come to school, because they have no shoes, or because they’re dirty. Your first line of defense is to keep an eye out for these kids. Because the only reason we’re doing this is because we want to make life better.”

Beverly Eby of Delhi has been teaching more than 27 years and is a UC alumna from the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, earning a bachelor’s of science degree in education, a master’s degree in reading and a certificate in administration. Eby was also in the second cohort to graduate with her doctorate in education from UC’s Urban Educational Leadership Program in 2004.

She taught Yvonne’s seventh, eighth, and ninth-grade English classes from 1979-1981. “She was a very good student and she always tried hard. I remember she was very neat, and her handwriting was so pretty, and she always said, ‘Yes Ma’am, No Ma’am,’” Eby says.

Yvonne Dawson
Yvonne Dawson

“English was always a difficult subject for me, and taking her class, it showed me the hard dedication it would take to develop good writing skills, which is very important for the field that I’m in,” Yvonne says.

Yvonne adds that even after her junior high school experience, she turned to Ms. Eby again for help when Yvonne’s son, Jeremy, needed to stay on track in high school. “She said, ‘Look, son, I will do everything in my power to help you, but if you do not want it, I will ship you out of here faster than you came!’” Jeremy is now looking ahead to his own graduation from Dater High School in the spring. And he, too, chuckles with his mom over stories about past and present students who challenge Ms. Eby.

Yvonne says Ms. Eby continues to command respect, but has mellowed a little from Yvonne’s adolescent years. “Back when I had her, she was young and spicy. Now, she figures, ‘I don’t have to do all of that.’”

“I remember some years back I ran into Yvonne at a store,” Eby says. “She said, ‘Are you Ms. Eby?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘You were the meanest teacher I ever had!’ I said, ‘Did you graduate?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘You’re welcome.’”

After graduating with her dual bachelor’s degrees in December, Yvonne will continue her studies at UC, working on a master’s degree in social work. She began her studies in the School of Social Work in September. Her career goals center on social service programs and policy making.

At Dater High School, where Dr. Eby is principal, she will look ahead to awarding a UC scholarship to an outstanding high school senior. “I always say that the best result of teaching is that you get the results right away. It’s always rewarding to see a student go on to college and success.”


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