by Chris Worick
Tucked in along west Main Street, there is a small road going up the hill which typically goes unnoticed.
Walker Drive is named in honor of one of Dahlonega's most well loved educators.
Moddelle Walker was born in Dahlonega on July 27, 1904 to George and Mary (Davis) Walker.
When Moddelle was only two years old, her father, died suddenly after catching pneumonia. This left Modelle's mother a widow with two small daughters to raise and provide for. Although life was hard for the family, Moddelle excelled at school and demonstrated a love for learning at an early age.
Moddell began her career as an educator when she was only 15. While still technically a high school student herself, she became a teaching assistant for elementary age pupils. At that time in history, to receive a teaching certificate, a person only needed to pass a proficiency exam and have a recommendation from the local or county school superintendent. This applied to the elementary school age levels. Persons wishing to teach at higher levels required additional education. Some of this was supplemented by summer school classes offered at certain colleges or universities.
In 1921, Moddelle was one of five graduates from Lumpkin County High School, where she had earned top marks in her studies.
After attending summer school in Athens to receive her teaching certification, she went on to teach at one of Lumpkin County's rural one room schools for two years. Professor Carl Schultz who was the Lumpkin County school superintendent saw potential in his former pupil and in 1924, Moddelle was hired as one of the new teachers at the Dahlonega public school in town. Miss Walker's time teaching in Dahlonega was short lived Beginning in 1926, Modelle taught at no less than eleven different schools in Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama over the next 19 years.
Although her teaching career began without a formal degree, Miss Walker did go on to receive her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Georgia and later, a Master of Arts from Peabody University. She specialized in English, Latin and math.
During World War II, Miss Moddelle did her patriotic duty and worked briefly in the office of the Adjutant General in the Pentagon, and later at a parachute manufacturing plant in Gainesville. After the war, Moddelle moved to Thomas, Georgia in 1946 where she taught Latin at Thomson High School for the next 17 years.
Miss Walker returned to Dahlonega in 1963 and taught three more years at Lumpkin County High School before retiring. She was also a member of the Dahlonega Baptist Church where she taught Sunday School.
In 1966, the senior class of LCHS dedicated the ARGUS yearbook to Miss Moddelle as a tribute to her 44 years of dedicated service as an educator. When asked if she would have the chance to start over, and choose a career, her reply was "I would do as I did many years ago. I would choose teaching as a profession."
Years later, in 1981, The Dahlonega Nugget did an interview with Miss Walker entitled Educational Spotlight. In reflecting back on her long teaching career, Miss Walker commented that the highlight of her career was when she was chosen "Grandteacher" by Mrs. Norris' class at Lumpkin County Elementary School. She also took pride in the fact that five of her former students had become doctors, and one had even risen to the rank of Lieutenant General in the Army.
After retiring, Miss Moddelle still continued to teach part time whenever she was needed.
On September 6, 2004, Moddelle Walker died at the age of 100. Although she never married or had a family of her own, Miss Moddelle's funeral was attended by many of her former students as a final tribute to one of Lumpkin County's most beloved teachers.
Moddelle Walker is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery next to a red cedar tree which was planted in her memory.