Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Honoring the High School Teachers in Our Family


Teacher support without date

High School is a whole different world from Elementary and Middle School. Students– some, are thinking about careers and college. Some are thinking about girls…or boys!  Hormones are raging, anger spills over easily, there’s driving, dancing, and football!  There are the shy introverts, and the wide open extroverts –and then there are teachers and principals! Bravest of all souls on earth! We have at least twelve high school teachers in our family and two principals, plus one assistant principal already recognized!

Max Holshouser, 2013I have to start with my most favorite high school teacher in the world of course–my husband, Max Holshouser. After teaching for twelve years, Max retired  almost two years ago now.  Max earned a BA in Industrial Arts Education at North Carolina State University and has taught woodworking as well as his other subjects. Although trained as a teacher, Max spent  25 years as a mechanical designer in industry.  He designed things like the  mechanical components  for uninterruptible power supply sources, and million dollar pharmaceutical bottle filling 061313093651machines!  When he decided to teach, he brought all of that experience into his classroom.  He taught drafting, Computer Assisted Drafting to be exact. He also taught Architecture and Engineering honors classes at Wakefield High School in Wake County, NC.  Max taught woodworking in a community college setting and to middle schoolers along the way. It was always interesting for me to visit his school and classroom and see the high esteem his peers and his students had for him. Everywhere we went  were students speaking to him, “Hi Mr. H.! What do you think of this! Look what I did!”  After they graduated, several students got in touch to let him know how things were going in college.  Recognizing my bias on his behalf,  I wrote an in-depth blog post about Max previously, so if you’d like to see some of his woodworking you can at this 3 part post: Max Alexander Holshouser, Family Man and Extraordinary Craftsman.


Architectural model built from CAD design in classroom of Max Holshouser, abt. 2012

I think it is so great to find out what family has been doing and to learn more about them! With that in mind, I want to tell you about more  of the high school teachers in our family both past and present!  I will present them in alphabetical order according to their surnames!

Claire Fallon with crown of flowers, croppedA cousin through my Scottish Hogue family, Claire Fallon is a young woman I have known all of her life! Her mother and I were college roommates discovering we were cousins after I got involved in genealogical research in my  60’s.  I have had the honor of watching Claire grow up and become this amazing teacher!  From childhood on, Claire was very independent and creative. She developed into a strong individual with philosophies of life well-defined.  She was blessed in my opinion, to grow up in Hawaii having been born in Pennsylvania, and to have spent her early childhood in North Carolina.  In Hawaii I believe, she embraced a healthy lifestyle, danced and became interested in theatre and yoga.  She earned a BA from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She also took extensive training in yoga at the Yandara Yoga Institute on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.  

In 2010, this courageous young woman opened and taught in a school for yoga and meditation. The school was named The Culebra Institute of Yoga and was located on the beautiful island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. Amazingly, when Claire moved back to Hawaii in 2014, she opened a branch of this school in Honolulu! She then became a business tycoon as well as a teacher at heart. Loving theatre and dance still, Claire took a position teaching both of these at St. Andrew’s Priory School in Claire in playHonolulu, Hawaii which includes grades K-12! Claire teaches music and movement to K-5,  and directs theater productions in 6-12.  She is currently directing an all female  Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, and she and the students are very excited about it!  Just look at a typical day in the life of this dynamic young educator:

Started off my morning with some meditation and yoga, taught 4 classes of music and movement for young children, led a status acting workshop for older kids, went snorkeling and saw a school of unicorn fish, watched a sunset on the beach, got take out from Shaloha, and in bed before 9pm! That’s a day well lived!”

Claire Fallon yoga pose in water

Last year  Claire  taught  a sunset yoga class at the Yoga School of Kailua, in Kailua, Honolulu County, Hawaii. In October, 2015, Claire will start teaching a new yoga class through her new endeavor called Clarity Yoga. You can find information about Clarity Yoga on facebook , just click on the name.

Just in case you were hoping Claire would do more for you and our world, she does!  Claire is the owner/consultant of Hawaii Green Living. Through her efforts there she teaches people to live a healthier life and to decrease their footprint on our earth. You rock Claire! We are so proud of you and your efforts to make the world a better place.

Susan Elswick Ferrell, Math Geek Teacher of the YearSusan Elswick Ferrell is part of our extended Spangler family. She is officially retired from teaching in high school, but like many teachers,  continues because she loves the students and the job. Susan has had an amazing career. She started college herself at Southern West Virginia Community College then finished at West Virginia University Institute of Technology with a degree in Mathematics Education in 1977.  In 2004 Susan earned her Masters Degree from University of Phoenix in Technology and Curriculum. 

Susan’s career varied as well from beginning to end with some amazing peaks and valleys of course.  Just after finishing college, Susan taught remedial classes for college students at her alma mater. After that she taught 7th grade Math and coached cheerleading at Summerville Junior High School. Then she taught Special Education on the Junior High level for three years. She began to teach in high school and loved it. Moving to  Montgomery, WV. and  Valley High School, she taught every Susan Elswick Ferrell cartoon math teacherMath course offered there and some computer programming for the rest of her high school career, retiring in 2011. However, that is not all she did–she was the advisor for the yearbook most of her time at Valley  High School and loved it. She coached cheerleaders for a few years.  As well as all of that,  on a county-wide level, she piloted the computer grading system and taught it in the different schools. Awesome! 

Even while teaching in high school,  Susan also taught part-time at West Virginia Tech.  During eight summers Susan  taught “Upward Bound” programs which encourage children from low-income or low opportunity situations to learn that they can succeed  in college and beyond.   Since retiring she has continued to teach part-time, two courses a semester where she has generally taught developmental math, or Finite Math.  

What an amazing career with many mixed experiences as well.  We know that Susan was an extraordinary teacher also, because in 2006, she was chosen Secondary Teacher of the Year not only from her own school, but also from the whole of Fayette County, West Virginia! I am not surprised that they were as proud of her as her extended family is! You know Susan was an excellent teacher when she states emphatically that “It’s all about the kids!” and says she misses them since retirement! That’s a teacher to love! 

We have many more high school teachers in our family tree, some who came before us  and laid the groundwork  for our family.  I will have the joy of telling their stories in the next post. I can hardly wait to hear what some of you think of these three incredible teachers! We are blessed with talent in our families! 

Teachers need 3 bones



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Max A. Holshouser, Part 2 of 3, Toys, Baking, and String Art!


In the last post, I told you about my husband Max’s love of woodworking and working with stained glass. I want to continue by sharing with you some of the many toys he’s made over the years, some of the special baking he’s done, and his string art! I told you he is a man of many talents, and I wanted to be sure his grandchildren and all his descendants know what a talented man their ancestor Max was! In the next and last part of this tribute I am writing for my husband’s 65th birthday, I want to show you some of his bigger projects, like decks and stone patios! I wish I had one tenth the talent Max Holshouser has! I was smart enough to recognize genius when I saw it, and have always been happy I married this man! 

Let’s talk about toys! Max loves to make toys! His children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews have been the happy recipients of some of his talents. One of the first amazing things I remember his making was a fire engine! Not just any fire engine, but one that was like four feet long, with a rope that wound up, to be the hose, and extending and swiveling ladders! His nephews were the proud recipients of this amazing toy! Made about 1978, it is still being played with by his great-nephew today in 2014! In this picture, our daughter Ali, now grown, is showing off our gift to her cousins!  



Toys by Max, fire engine with ladders exended, plane and Ali!


And how about this six-foot long train? Made about the same time, it has always been stationed at our house for the many children who pass through to enjoy! And they have– both our children and grandchildren have played with it repeatedly! The logs in the log car, have been used for swords, for counting, and a million other things over the years! The train carries reindeer at Christmas time, but has carried army men, Barbie dolls, and a million other things over the years! Notice in one picture below, that our cat Pandora even liked the train! 

Toys by Max, train DSCF9873


This summer of 2014, brought one of Max’s greatest creations so far! He made a Noah’s Ark for his grandchildren, Liam 6, Katy 2, and Evie 8 months. He made pairs of animals and a ramp to go up onto the massive ark! Waiting to welcome the animals are Noah and his wife! The kids love it! 


Toys by Max, Noalh's Ark for Liam and Katy and EvieToys by Max, Liam and Katy play with ark

Max made several of these planes, he loved them himself,  but gave others to friends and family. The puzzles are so delightful and so much fun, we have enjoyed them with the kids and grandkids for years!  Besides the animals, bunny, squirrel, turtle and others, I love the  partridge in the pear tree! Can you tell that hanging up are some trivets? They are so cool, I love them! Then you can see the turtle with the secret drawer in its box! And last but way not least, you can see how much our baby Ali enjoyed the rocking duckie her Dad built for her! There were others,–too many to show, marionettes, and bean bag toss games for home and school! This Santa’s helper  was almost always in his workshop out in our garage! 

Toys by max, plane from front Toys by Max , plane from back Toys by Max, Puzzles , puzzles Toys by max, A partridge in a  pare tree Trivets by MaxTurtle Box made by Max HolshouserTurtle Box with drawer openToys, Rocking Ducky made by Max

How many talents can one man have! Thank you God, many! Besides woodworking , making toys, and being a stained glass artist, Max is a baker and a cook! His mother loved to decorate cakes, and Max must have inherited the genes from her!  Furthermore, one of our daughters, Annie Holshouser, has become a pastry chef! She has just recently gone back to school to earn this certificate, after graduating from Appalachian State University with a business degree some years ago! Do I see a bakery in her future? While Annie has finished her first wedding cakes and won awards lately, her Dad must have inspired her as he produced special cakes year after year for their birthdays! Below I’ve showcased just some of his cakes.  Remember that Annie is really Margaret Anne, and was called Maggie until she decided she wanted to be Annie in highschool! The wedding cake is by Annie, the flowers are made of fondant!  I just had to show you! 

Baker Max makes Winnie the Pooh Cake for Ali's 2nd birthday Baker Max and cake with Snoopy for 3 y o Ali Baker Max, 3 year old Ali loved having Ernie at her party! Baker Max,  Annie was always in love with the mice! Baker Max, birthday cake spelling Maggie Baker Max, agift for Maggie Baker Max , map of NC  for Ali's fourth grade classAnnie's first wedding cake wins a bronze medal!  March 31, 2014

We can’t stop thinking about the baking and creating Max has done over the years without discussing his gingerbread creations! Many, many Christmases our home has been decorated and scented by Max’s incredible gingerbread creations! Before we even had children, Max would begin making something from gingerbread just before Christmas!  We have pictures of many, but i cannot find a picture of one I remember especially well, because it was three feet high! It was a big doll house built of gingerbread, and our only daughter at that time, six-year-old Ali, loved it! (Annie was born two years later.) I cannot believe I cannot find a picture of that incredible house! The first small house shown below was the very first that Max made for us in 1972! He made an enchanting village, trees, snow and all out of gingerbread! I was hooked for life! Look closely at the tower thingy, oh gracious, that was amazing. Unfortunately, the top wouldn’t stay on, so it sat beside the tower for the season, looking stunning! But the piece de resistance was the carousel! Oh how I remember the beauty of that thing! He made reindeer for the horses, and  it was  just a beautiful creation! Using his stained glass skills, he made colored panels for the top of the carousel, out of melted lifesavers! I have a soft spot for carousels, and for my husband Max! LOL Once again I’m sharing one of our pastry chef daughter Annie’s creations with you as well –notice she won a blue ribbon for the gingerbread house she created this past year! 

Baker Max, decorating gingerbread house DSCF9891 Baker Max gingerbread tower Baker Max Baker Max, carousel, gingerbread Annie Holshouser's first gingerbread house wins the blue ribbon, Dec. 2013



Do you remember ever seeing string art ?  It was very popular in the 1970’s, and appealed to Max and me strongly! He loved making it, and I loved seeing it! He ended up making several pieces for us, and several for gifts for others.  String art was made by covering a board with a cloth, or staining it, then placing nails into the wood to form the pattern of the shape you are trying to create! Next you would take your string, yarn, whatever fiber you might choose, and wind it around the nails in specific order so that you would end up with a beautiful pattern, words or shapes! One of the first things Max did was the huge suspension bridge in red on a stained wooden background. That was much lovelier than this picture shows, and we enjoyed it on our walls for many years!  One of our cousins was president of his Civitan club, and liked his design immensely. I hope you will enjoy seeing these and let me know what you think and what is your favorite! 


String art by max, suspension bridge String Art by Max, sailing ship tring art by  Max blue and red circle String Art by Max, Civitan String Art by Max, star like String Art by max DSCF9908String art by Max, owl

Before we leave, let me show you a couple more types of fiber art, string art–in this case cross stitch done by Max! He went to North Carolina State University so  of course he had to do their symbols! They were done years ago but remain on our walls today. He did other crossstitched items meaningful to me especially, but these will take us out of this chapter in the reviewing of Max’s artistic talents. In the next part, I can hardly wait to show you what Max has done as far as bigger construction projects! Less you think I am bragging  mightily, remember that I am trying to detail Max’s legacy and abilities for his descendants so that they might know him! I encourage you all to do something similar, so that following generations will know you and your loved ones also!

Needle Craft by Max, NCSU symbols


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