n The roast was "payback" for former Milam principal Nathaniel Stone.

By Ginny Miller

Daily Journal

TUPELO - Retired educator Nathaniel Stone got a good dose of ribbing at a salute to African American teachers on Wednesday.

"He gave me three of the hardest licks I've ever had in my life," recalled Craig Shannon, who as a sixth-grader at the former Green Street Elementary was disciplined by Principal Stone for being disrespectful. "I've been waiting almost 24 years to get you back, but I'll do it in a very special way because I don't want another paddling."

More than 200 people attended the event honoring black educators at the Summit Conference Center. Part of the program was a roasting of Stone, who later served as principal of Milam. Shannon, now principal of the Fillmore Center, was Stone's successor at Milam when the longtime educator retired.

Classmate Vera Dukes poked fun at Stone's singing abilities: "He can't carry a tune in a bucket," she said.

"This is payback," said former student Susie Owens, who got many a spanking when Stone was her sixth-grade teacher.

"Mr. Stone was something else," she said, adding that he inspired her own 35-year teaching career.

"He told us it's not where you're from or who you know that's going to make a difference," Owens said. "It's what you know. I know I wanted to be a teacher because of Mr. Stone."

Stone, 77, laughed at the jokes and thanked those who roasted, then praised him.

"To recognize retired teachers, you cannot do enough," he said, noting that the best educators teach by simplicity, sincerity and sacrifice.

Contact Daily Journal education writer Ginny Miller at ginny.miller@djournal.com or 678-1582.

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