Tinubu: A Choppee success story

August 11, 2013 

Gloria Bromell Tinubu walks toward the home she was born in on the grounds of Brookgreen Gardens in Georgetown County.

BY JANET BLACKMON MORGAN — jblackmon@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

Gloria Bromell Tinubu is a 1971 Choppee High School graduate and among the most educated women South Carolina’s public school system has ever produced.

Her now-defunct alma mater has produced its fair share of lawyers and doctors and entrepreneurs, including many who have helped to shape educational and political policy in Georgetown for decades.

Tinubu attended the University of South Carolina as a Herbert Lehman Scholar, then received a fine arts degree, with honors, from Howard University.

She earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics and a doctorate in applied economics from Clemson University.

She was a tenured professor at Spellman College, president of Barber-Scotia College and a member of the Georgia Board of Education. Today, she teaches at Coastal Carolina University.

Tinubu was the Democratic nominee in the first Congressional race in the 7th District in 2012 and is mulling her 2014 political options.

Her higher educational exploits would not have been possible had it not been for the strong academic foundation given her at Choppee, she said.

Her Choppee pedigree had her more ready than many of her college classmates, she said.

Tinubu was ready for the academic rigors of her foreign language and math courses in college despite her meager beginnings. Her father, a maintenance worker at Brookgreen Gardens - property that was once home to plantations and black slavery - where Tinubu was born, served three or four years in prison.

The entire community cherished and celebrated education, even as residents in that part of Georgetown County struggled in the fields and with segregation and had to work as maids in Myrtle Beach or in hot manufacturing plants, Tinubu said.

During her years at Choppee, the teachers were highly qualified, certified in their fields and had graduate degrees.

“They always put academics on the front page of the paper,” said Tinubu, one of the top students in her class.

Carvers Bay High School principal Richard Neal was a teammate of Robert Geathers Sr. He was surprised to hear that Robert walked out of Choppee with literacy problems.

He wanted to be principal at Carvers Bay to make sure fewer students would slip through without receiving the skills they needed, skills he said he received in abundance at Choppee.

“Choppee really helped me a great deal,” he said. “They put a high value on education and being a good person. It was always work hard, do your best and never give up. That was the foundation for me. Coach [John]Spears built a sense of trust. He always emphasized academics, then said you are rewarded with sports. He always compared the field to what’s going on in the classroom.”

Contact ISSAC J. BAILEY at ibailey@thesunnews.com or at Twitter at @TSN_IssacBailey.

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