Nancy Maddox: A Teacher Story
I was born in Vinita, Oklahoma – midway between Tulsa and Joplin, Missouri, to Buck and Carol Paulding on June 14, 1953. I am the third of six children. Five of us are still living. My parents have both died, but I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters who continue to live in Oklahoma.
We lived in a small house in town till I was nearly 9 years old, and then we moved about 2 miles out of town. For my 4th grade through 7th grade years I attended a small two-room school for 1st through 8th grades. I loved it there. Then I moved to Vinita Junior and Senior High Schools.
I chose Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma (now called University of Central Oklahoma) because it is the best teachers’ college in Oklahoma. I studied to teach special education. I volunteered in a home for mentally retarded adults while in high school and decided this was my calling.
I became a Christian as a young child. When I was about 7 years old, I decided our cat needed a collar, so I put a rubber band around his neck. One day I overheard my parents talking about the poor cat’s neck being raw and sore from a rubber band. They thought one of the younger children had done it, since it was a very foolish thing to do. Soon after this, I came to understand that it is sin to not admit to doing something wrong. I also did some naughty things trying to get my older sister in trouble – like carving her name on top of a bookcase. This was also sin. I talked with my daddy about it, and soon put my faith in Christ to forgive my sin and save me.
While in college I spent a huge amount of time at the Baptist Student Union. This was life changing for me. I learned to spend time with God alone in Bible reading and prayer, and to trust Him with all my life. I also learned to love missions. I was involved in two BSU mission trips during these years. I also spent one summer on Jekyll Island, Georgia, and another at the Baptist Children’s Home in Oklahoma City as a summer missionary.
After graduation from college, I moved to Hugo, Oklahoma to work with a team in locating children with disabilities who were not being served by the public school. It was quite an adventure. The second year, the program ended abruptly in November because of funding issues. I moved back to Edmond and began substitute teaching. In February I was hired to teach at Children’s Convalescent Center. I worked with young children who had multiple handicaps.
During this time, I began dating Steve Maddox, young man I had met in college. We were soon married. A year later, I quit teaching to begin a new career as a stay-at-home mother. We have 4 children, Stephanie, Bill, Megan, and David, who was the only one born in Texas.
When David was in kindergarten, I returned to teaching. For six years I taught second grade; then for the next 13 years I taught special education again, this time with students with milder learning disabilities. All nineteen years were at Sycamore Elementary in Crowley ISD—our neighborhood school.
In 2002 my oldest, Stephanie, left the United States to be a two-year missionary. I began to read more about missions. I felt the Lord telling me to talk to Ed Talley, the missions minister at Southcliff at that time, who was in charge of local missions programs. I spent every Thursday afternoon after school helping him at the church, but soon knew I needed to be involved in missions directly. I had heard of the ESL program and called John Spear to see if they needed another teacher. I began in either January of 2003 or 2004, I’ve forgotten which.
Those early years I taught level 2. At first there were just 3 or 4 teachers. We met in a space at the Southcliff shopping center. My classroom for a couple of years was the kitchen! It seems we were excited when we grew to 30 students. The final year at that location, it was extremely crowded, with several classes in one room with partitions dividing them. At that point we knew we had to move to the church. We worried that some students would not attend at the church, but we continued to grow and grow.
It was at this point that I felt led to teach a citizenship preparation class. I got the training and began with one student, Kia Mema. She passed her test in October, and then Patrick came, then another and another. I learned so much just by trying to find answers to students’ needs. My records show that I got to help 42 people get their citizenship in seven years. My heart is full to overflowing.
I have retired from teaching. My husband is retired and wants me to be free to travel. We also attend a different church now, and I am involved in ministry there. I miss Southcliff ESL terribly at times, especially the time with the students from all over the world. They have taught me to see the world in new ways, from their perspectives. I have heard stories of violence against children, refugee camps, engineers who cannot work in their field but are happy to have freedom in the US, hard-working people who are making a new home and a new way of life for their families. There are so many stories, so many wonderful people. God is bringing all these people to teach us as they learn English, American customs, and hopefully about the love of Christ for all nations.
I am now the grandmother of 7 precious children. When I have time, I enjoy making quilts and doing other sewing projects. It’s amazing how busy we stay in retirement. After Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area in 2017, we made two trips to put up wall board in houses that had been damaged. God is at work, and I try to see where I can join Him. Right now, my place of service is teaching about missions to 4th grade girls at my new church. I am also called to be the parent of missionaries. That daughter Stephanie lives in another country far away with her husband and four children. They are learning a new language, customs, and are sharing the love of Christ for all nations.