A longtime educator and current community volunteer, Frances Bullard, is being honored as this year’s Distinguished Citizen by the Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce. The award was presented at the annual banquet March 16 at the Ozark Folk Center’s Skillet Restaurant.
Originally from Big Flat, Frances Treat graduated high school in 1965 and had a scholarship to attend college to help her achieve her dream of becoming a business teacher. She was inspired by her own business teacher, Betty Rose, who she said was a great role model. However, Frances had been dating Jim Bullard and he was working in Illinois in the sheetrock business. He urged her to marry him, promising she could pursue a college degree later. So they married that summer and lived in Illinois, then in St. Louis, where their son, Jimmy Dale, was born.
Jimmy Dale was a year old when Frances’s parents, J.B. and Virginia Treat, offered to care for him during the week if she wanted to move back and start college. Her father, especially, was intent on her going to college. She took them up on the offer and moved back, completing a degree at what is now University of Central Arkansas in three years.
Jim, too, moved back home and they had a small farm at Onia. Because it was the middle of the school year, Frances first took a job as a school secretary, but then Timbo began a Head Start program and drafted her. She needed special training for the two-month stint, but completed it and a second year, though she was reluctant because she was not an elementary teacher. She resigned after that, and her daughter, Latricia, was born that June.
After taking a year off, Frances looked to re-enter the workforce and had gotten a job as an executive secretary for the new Ozark Folk Center, but a business teacher job came open at Marshall and she interviewed for that. She fell in love with the department and was excited to get the job. She left Onia at 6:30 each morning, calling the drive her “thinking and praying time.”
She had taught two years at Marshall when Olene Gilbert retired from Timbo, creating an opening that Jim urged her to pursue. Though she loved her job at Marshall she saw the wisdom in the shorter commute and she got the position at Timbo, where she would teach business and math. This required her to attain certification in math, so she attended summer school, then drove to Searcy one night a week to take calculus in order to finish. This didn’t faze her.
“I always did love school and I still love school,” says Frances, who had achieved perfect attendance from 7th through 12th grades. She later went on to complete a master’s degree.
While teaching at Timbo, a new Future Business Leaders of America chapter was formed and she was excited about sponsoring that student group. They raised enough money to buy one TRS-80 desktop microcomputer, and Frances drove to Harrison five days a week that summer to learn how to use it. By 1977, the school had two electric typewriters among the manual models available to students, and by the early 1980s, all were electric. These got ruined when a tornado struck the high school building.
“I wouldn’t take anything for the years with my students,” she says, and this includes participating in whatever her students did to raise money, such as catching chickens.
She taught at Timbo for 10 years before transferring to Mountain View to teach computers, programming, keyboarding and applied math. When the new middle school was established, she moved to teach seventh grade keyboarding, eighth grade computer apps, and eighth grade algebra. She later taught all ages in summer school.
“It didn’t matter what I taught; every day was a true blessing!” she says.
With the retirement of Betty Allred, she was offered the high school business position and FBLA sponsorship, in which students had been high achieving at state and national levels. She said she continued to be blessed with many winners at all levels, and she enjoyed traveling with the students and having supportive parents and other school personnel.
Her teaching experience also includes night classes in algebra and computers at Ozarka, and eventually adult computer classes.
She had been teaching at Mountain View School since 1985 and needed to retire in 2013 to help care for her mother. She is thankful to have had that five years with her mother before she passed.
“I tell ya what, I dearly love to teach,” she says. “I’d go back to school tomorrow and teach,” she says. School officials have made overtures, and she has been excited by the prospect, but her husband of 58 years – not so much.
Volunteering is what she always wanted to do after retiring, and she currently leads the Stone County Medical Center Auxiliary, where she and others have donated thousands of hours of time.
In addition to their children and spouses – Jimmy Dale and Dana Bullard, and Latricia and Rick Maynard – the Bullards have three granddaughters, all of whom work in medical fields.
“I’m blessed beyond measure,” she says.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here