By Nyesha Stone
Sometimes when we die our legacy lives on. Elouise (Garner) Joseph, also known as Mrs. Elouise, died March 16, 2015, and about two years later Millie Tanner-Latham decided to honor Mrs. Elouise.
Tanner-Latham was close friends with Mrs. Elouise’s son, John Yerks Jr., and he gave his mother’s case of buttons to Tanner-Latham. The buttons came in a red tin with gold flowers and a solid gold lid. The tin traveled with Mrs. Elouise as she traveled from her home in Louisiana to the Midwest. When she moved to the Midwest, Mrs. Elouise became an interior decorator and renovator.
When Tanner-Latham received the buttons, she knew she had to do something with them. She wanted to honor her friend’s mother whom she never met, but talked to on the phone several times.
Tanner-Latham is known for putting together presentations, so these buttons were no different. As a retired teacher, doing things such as this is in her blood. She decided to work with her grandson’s teacher at Esperanza Charter School to put the buttons to use.
She’s helped her grandson’s kindergarten teacher before by providing the teacher with science curriculum. This time, Tanner-Latham had an entire lesson plan to present to the class and it all involved Mrs. Elouise’s buttons.
“Instead of just handing the buttons to the class, I decided to honor Mrs. Elouise,” said Tanner-Latham.
It took a few days to put the entire lesson together. She presented the Science Project: “MRS. ELOUISE’S BUTTONS” to the class on May 12 and 16 of this year.
Mrs. Elouise’s buttons was finally about to be put to use in her hometown of Louisiana.
Before the presentation, Tanner-Latham requested that the students be taught what the word attribute means. On the day of the presentation, she asked the students what it meant and that lead into what the buttons meant and who they belonged to.
The presentation included four parts: “Hide and Seek Subtraction”—a worksheet game, “Corduroy is missing his buttons!”—a maze game, “The Dancing Button”—a science demonstration, and “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons”—a YouTube video.
Each of these games taught the students how to take advantage of their thinking skills while still having fun.
“I like putting together projects, as I call them, to further educate,” said Tanner-Latham.
The children loved the presentation and Tanner-Latham knew they would because she’s a veteran in the game.
Since retiring from teaching, Tanner-Latham is a local educator and researcher. She likes documenting the African American oral history in the Carrollton area. She is currently establishing “The James Andrews III and Ethel Andrews Tanner Foundation,” along with the “Ethel Andrews Tanner Center for Culture and Education” named in her mother’s honor.
Tanner-Latham is always looking for ways to honor African-Americans, and will continue to do so for as long as she lives.
To Tanner-Latham, “this was a simple way to honor the legacy” of Mrs. Elouise, and she and the children enjoyed every second of it.