Dicy McCullough: Tremayne and Dewayne Smith

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 21, 2012

By Dicy McCullough
For the Salisbury Post
Have you ever met anyone who by their presence made you feel better or helped you see through a glass half full instead of half empty? I’ve known a few people like that in my lifetime. This story is about two of them.
Identical twins, Tremayne and Dewayne Smith, were students in my music class when I taught at Cleveland Elementary School. Excellent students as well as athletic, they played YFL football during elementary school for the West Rowan Warriors’ team. My husband, Michael McCullough, was their coach and gave them rides to practice many afternoons in his pickup. Visiting recently at my house, Tremayne and Dewayne laughed, remembering those days.
Tremayne said he fell in love with music during elementary school and knew then he wanted to be a band director. Entering East Carolina University as a freshman, he declared his major as music, but in his sophomore year it looked like his career might take a detour when he became interested in politics. Working for the Obama presidential campaign, he decided to go one extra year of school to earn a double major in political science and music.
His hard work for the campaign didn’t go unnoticed because after graduation, Tremayne was offered a position in North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan’s office in Washington, D.C. Spending the past year on Capitol Hill, he met many dignitaries, including President Barack Obama. I was jealous when I heard he had a private conversation with the president on Father’s Day at the famous Thomas Sweet Ice Cream Shop in historic Georgetown. Actually, I wasn’t jealous, but proud of all his accomplishments.
Even the glitz, glamour and lights of Washington, however, could not subdue Tremayne’s desire to return to his first love of music. That opportunity came in August when he was offered a position as band director for Rocky Mount High School. After teaching for only a few weeks, he posted the following comment on Facebook, “Teaching is as exhausting as it is rewarding at times. It’s good to be in a place in a career, in life, where you feel like you’re making a positive difference.”
While Tremayne’s passion is music and politics, Dewayne’s is sports and athletics. Taking a little longer to decide on a career path, Dewayne now uses his gifts to encourage students to become better inside and out. He gladly shares his own original plan for staying physically fit as he travels to different schools. Splitting his time between running his business and attending classes, he plans to graduate next spring from Livingstone College in Salisbury with a teaching degree in physical education.
Knowing how difficult it is growing up in today’s society, especially for young African-American men, it was obvious to me that Tremayne and Dewayne’s mother, Patricia Watkins, had worked hard as a single mother to keep her sons on the right track.
When asked if their mother had any help, Tremayne answered, “Yes, ma’am. Our grandmothers and church were very much part of our lives, helping to give us guidance and direction.”
Their maternal grandmother, Libby Blackwell, and paternal grandmother Shirley Smith shared the responsibility with Patricia in making sure the boys were where they were supposed to be, doing what they were supposed to be doing, when they were supposed to be doing it – and that included going to church. Tremayne and Dewayne said they learned to interact and speak in public from giving their testimonies in church each Sunday, sometimes sharing how they had been blessed and other times how they overcame temptation.
“We knew we’d better have something good to say on Sunday,” Dewayne said, laughing.
It was easy for me to imagine Mom and the two grandmothers sitting in church, so proud.
This story has many layers that won’t be complete until Tremayne and Dewayne’s mother and grandmothers share their thoughts and perspective. Planning to talk with them in the near future, I hope to learn their secrets for raising well-adjusted and highly motivated young men in today’s society. They probably could write a book. Don’t you agree?
Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Contact her at 704-278-4377.