HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — In Holly Springs, Mississippi, just off LeSueur Road, you’ll find a home, a church and nearby fields where the seeds were first planted to turn a daughter of sharecroppers into an acclaimed Memphis educator with a mission to serve.
“My parents were sharecroppers and from a young girl, we were taught even during the tough times how to survive,” said Dr. Patricia LeSueur Merriweather, who survived tough times. “Even at school being bullied about my skin color and, sad as it to say, even with family members.”
She’s one of 16 children and she wanted to be recognized in a positive way.
“My father, who was a pastor and great man, who provided for us, he told my mother, he said, ‘You know what, Hazel, I think Patricia is going to be best-looking daughter we have.'”
She knew her way off these fields would be through education.
“As a young girl I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to make a difference,” she said.
She became a teacher to help inspire students.
“Most students just want to be recognized. All I needed was to recognized not as the most important, but just as a human being as being a part of a family.”
For more than 30 years, Merriweather has been a leading educator in the legacy Memphis City Schools and the Shelby County school district. She is now principal at Belle Forest Community School.
She says she believes in giving students the tools they need to succeed — not just in the classroom, but in life.
“I wanted to work with students who are less fortunate and with children who are diamonds in the rough,” she said.
To help do that, she founded the All Children Can Learn learning center, where children receive additional hands-on academic assistance and meals.
“I experienced somewhat that some thought that all children could not learn. But I pushed that and named the tutoring center all children can learn. It’s up to us to find their interest and their ability.”
Her abilities have not gone unnoticed. She received the distinguished Administrator of the Year award in 2012. In 2018, she was also appointed president of the Tennessee Principals Association.
She also walks her talk in her faith. She’s a noted evangelist and the supervisor of women for the Tennessee Metropolitan Ecclesiastical jurisdiction of COGIC, and the chaplain for the talented FIFTH or Females Intelligently Fortifying Truth and Humility at Rust College.
“I’m not God, but his light certainly shines through me. When they come into my presence I like to be as a thermostat: set the atmosphere,” she said.
The atmosphere around her plants seeds of hope, making Dr. Patricia Merriweather a remarkable woman.