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Francis Marion’s Trimble named 1A Making a Difference award recipient

Class 1A Making A Difference Award Recipient

Francis Marion Principal Cathy Trimble Says Listening to Kids Makes a Difference.

Montgomery, AL – When Dr. Cathy Trimble became principal at Francis Marion High School, one of her first duties was to create a more disciplined learning environment and had few financial resources to work with.

 So she started an initiative she called “Blast-Off Mondays” where she meets students in the gymnasium and discusses whatever the students have on their minds.

She has discovered a wealth of resources right before her eyes.

“The students and I built a bond that was worth more than I can ever describe,” she said. “They taught me what they really needed most was someone who would listen to them. I mean, really listen to them.”

Since then, her small school in Perry County has seen remarkable improvement in reducing discipline problems and the students’ successes in the classroom have soared. More importantly, she said, “I know the names of every single student, and my office door is open to them any time.”

Her leadership and accessibility are two major reason Trimble was nominated and selected as the AHSAA ‘Making a Difference’ Award recipient for Class 1A for the 2019-20 school year.

Seven individuals, one in each of the AHSAA’s seven classifications, were selected for this prestigious award. The Making a Difference Award was established in 2011 by the AHSAA and AHSADCA to recognize individuals who go beyond their normal duties as a coach, teacher or administrator to make a positive impact in their schools and communities.

“This is very humbling,” said Trimble.

Trimble earned a volleyball scholarship to the University of West Alabama (Livingston University) and returned to her alma mater where she has spent her entire education career when her husband accepted a teaching and coaching position. She worked her way up the ladder, first as a substitute teacher, then as a para-professional  — remaining faithful to her school and community until she was finally hired as a teacher and girls’ basketball coach.

In the meantime she earned her Masters and Doctorate.

A talented volleyball, basketball, and softball player in high school, she found a friend and mentor in Mrs. Diane Johnson, who coached her in all three sports at Westside. “Mrs. Diane Johnson was a short, very petite lady, but as a coach she made you feel that you were the best player in the world even if you weren’t. She was stern yet compassionate, short yet powerful,” said Trimble. “I wanted to be just like her, and I didn’t want to let her down.”

Trimble juggled a successful teaching and coaching career at FMHS, so much so that a number of her former students now want to be like her. Several have followed her into coaching and teaching. Trimble’s coaching career was outstanding, but in her role as principal she has is making an even bigger difference.

In 2019 Francis Marion was one of 30 selected as a CLAS School of Distinction.

She points with pride to the success of her “Blast Off Monday’s” program. She mentions one student who had been in and out of juvenile detention that many were ready to give up on. He came to her. “I asked him why he was struggling and then I listened. I learned that what that young man had been going through away from school would break most of us. I opened my ears and gave him some much-needed one-on-one time and I began to see an immediate change.

“He graduated last May and now he is preparing to go to college. Kids just need to know someone cares about them and someone believes in them. That’s what I try to do.”

Dr. Trimble, who is also the wife of a teacher/coach, Reverend Anthony Trimble, said it is important for adults to practice what they preach.

“Every day I wake up first, I read my Bible; second, I give thanks to God; then third I thank God for giving me one more day to make a difference in a child’s life.”

Her goal each day, she says, is to continuously instill a strong sense of pride and a spirit of excellence in the student body of Francis Marion and encourage them that in all they do to continue to RISE UP!

That’s what making a difference is really about.