We laid to rest an incredible and remarkable woman, Dr. Johnnye Summerville.
Dr. Summerville was my kindergarten teacher. I was a rambunctious, talkative, and mildly distracted five year-old at Sleepy Hollow Educational Center in Detroit.
Dr. Summerville nurtured my curiosity for learning. She impressed upon me the importance of education, made me love learning. She poured her heart into every student she touched and is the definition of what it is to be a world class teacher.
But kindergarten teacher doesn’t do justice to our relationship or the indelible mark she left on my life. Dr. Summerville was more like an aunt, always present in my life. Her daughter, Arlicia, was more like a cousin to me growing up. Dr. Summerville and Arlicia were family – the family we make – spending holidays and birthdays together.
Dr. Summerville became one of the circle of women, my mother’s dearest friends, who I always knew as family and who nurtured, loved, disciplined, and cared for me as if I was their own child. The pastor who eulogized her captured it perfectly. Dr. Summerville’s presence was felt the moment she stepped into a room.
She had an infectious smile and laugh that could melt the coldest of hearts. But don’t get it confused, that bombastic voice could humble and shake you in a minute when “corrective action” was needed. Oh, she disciplined me like she was Josie! The stories make me laugh. But she always led with love. I never questioned that. I was able to spend some time with Dr. Summerville at my mom’s 70th birthday lunch in 2020. And was blessed to see her again before she transitioned. She knew how much I loved her and how important she was in my life. My heart is less heavy knowing she knew that.
Love you Dr. Summerville.