West Point Elementary School’s gym named after former educator

Published 9:30 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

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In a morning filled with celebration and happy tears, West Point Elementary School held a ceremony for the naming of its gym after late educator Zelma Brock.

From now on, it’ll be known as the Zelma Mackey Brock Gymnasium.

Brock retired from education in 2017 with a total of 44 years working for the TCSS. After retiring, Brock continued working and became employed with The Active Life Center in West Point, where she served as Active Life specialist and site manager until October 2021.

Last year, a proposal was made to the Troup County School Board to rename WPES after Brock. After much consideration from the community, the board voted not to rename the school for several reasons. While most opinions were positive and appreciative of Brock’s work and legacy, many wanted to keep the name of the school in remembrance of the last standing link to the former West Point School System.

At the guidance of Superintendent Brian Shumate, WPES surveyed PTO board members, parents and staff. The results of the survey showed support for the gym renaming.

In March, the school board approved the renaming of the school gym after Brock and on Friday TCSS made it official.

Bruce Mackey, Brock’s nephew, said it’s an honor to have her memory and namesake live on.

“I think we all want to be remembered in some sort of way as far as our life meaning something. For us as a family to have this type of legacy forever, is truly amazing,” Mackey said. “To see your namesake on a building means that your life wasn’t in vain. I know she’s smiling down from heaven at this occasion — West Point is her community, and she served it well. We’re a very proud family today and very humble and grateful that people thought enough to name a building after her.”

Bill Parsons, former WPES principal, said he spent 38 years in education and his fondest memories came from school, working with the community, the teachers, the students and Brock, who Parsons said changed his life.

“Zelma’s life taught me the greatest lesson, if you love someone, tell them while you can. If you’re thankful for someone, tell them thank you, while you can. Zelma, I love you and I thank you for the impact you’ve made on not only our school but my life,” Parsons said.

West Point Mayor Steve Tramell said he was excited to honor Brock with the renaming of the gym.

“Mrs. Brock was such an institution in our community and such a wonderful person, who did so much for so many people,” Tramell said. “I knew her maybe six years mainly through Active Life, but every time I would see her —  it didn’t matter what the day was like, I’d come away feeling just a little bit better because she was sunshine. When you talk about somebody having a reputation most of the time, it’s a bad one. Mrs. Brock had a golden reputation. She worked hard to have that reputation, and it was well deserved.”

Keneithia Cook, the current WPES principal, said it’s an honor to walk in the footsteps of an educator like Brock, who’s left such a big impact on the school.

“I’m honored as an educator, a woman, an African American to be able to follow in the footsteps of someone as great as Mrs. Brock and the legacy that she leaves here at our school and the community of West Point. It’s an honor to be able to recognize her today was such a special and momentous occasion,” Cook said.

During the ceremony, Shumate revealed that they have plans to name another building after Brock.

“Brock has left a legacy to not only this school, but this entire community, really across two counties. We’re very proud and honored to do this today,” Shumate said. “I haven’t presented it to the board, but we want to build a school-based health clinic right on the corner for the entire community for pediatric services from birth to 17 years old. If I get this done, we’re going to name it the Zelma Brock Community Health Center.”

Shumate said he has been meeting with the Callaway Foundation, who he said is supportive of the idea and with WellStar.

“We’ve already put one in Callaway Elementary. This entire community needs pediatric services out here for families as they come in and out of school every day. Whether you have a kindergartner or a 15-year-old, you can get service right here on this campus and will name that after Brock. I think our board will support that, I hope, but I will present that to them fairly soon.”