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By John Pierce

Mr. Aubrey Greeson was among the first male teachers I experienced at the highly acclaimed Boynton Elementary School just east of Chickamauga National Military Park. In those glory years, the school claimed us kids for our first eight grades (no kindergarten) of education — before bussing us over to the high school in Ringgold.

Recently, I quoted Mr. Greeson on Facebook — which reminded me of some other things he said to us. A clever teacher, he would have fun as well as instruct.

Once he was calling out questions during a history quiz — and asked us to name the principal chief who led the Cherokee Nation through its most trying times. Most of us were familiar with John Ross — if not from reading and lectures, from local knowledge.

The John Ross log home still stands in the nearby town that bears his name. And what is now the popular Chattanooga Riverfront was once known as Ross Landing, a major trading center along the Tennessee River.

But some members of our seventh grade class must have looked dazed. So Mr. Greeson playfully gave a hint.

“Linda,” he asked one student, “did ROSSville win Friday night?”

She said she didn’t know the outcome of the football game, and apparently didn’t pick up on our teacher’s own little game.

So he made other references to “ROSS-ville” High School (always emphasizing the first syllable) — a once football powerhouse before the mill town began its decline and the school was relocated and renamed.

But my favorite line always came when someone would ask a question beginning with: “Mr. Greeson, do we have to…?”

If that question really had to do with something for which that one person was responsible, Mr. Greeson would reply with a distinct Southern Appalachian accent: “You got a frog in your pocket?”

His implication, of course, was that we need to take responsibility for those matters that belong clearly to us.

I’ve only been borrowing that line for about 45 years now. It seems to still convey the intended message rather well.

In fact, one colleague even sent an email recently about a project he was doing. It began: “My frog and I are working on … today.”

“We” is a good word when sharing community and giving credit for team success. It is important to never use the singular “I” or “me” when others should be included.

However, there are personal responsibilities that can only be embraced as our own.

Just me. Me and the frog.

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