JHS teacher is third generation to teach
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Oct 01, 2013 | 1377 views |  0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After Kellilyn Sechrest graduated from Alexandria High School and began attending Jacksonville State University with a variety of scholarships, the thought of several different careers entered her mind. One kept coming back though. It was teaching.

Kellilyn grew up with teachers. Both her mother and her maternal grandmother taught. She began teaching eighth grade English at JHS five years ago, her first teaching job.

“I truly feel God has given me the gift of teaching,” she said. “I enjoy being around the students, teaching them, and being able to have the experience of watching them learn and grow and mature into young men and women. I enjoy being with them for a year, watching them develop their skills, while encouraging them to be successful in every area of their lives.”

Kellilyn said she feels that God led her to teach.

“I hope to be more than a teacher of English,” she said. “I hope that I can teach them life skills and aspects that I think our culture doesn’t teach well. I absolutely love Jacksonville High School. I feel blessed to be a part of a school that has lots of vision and support. And my colleagues are outstanding. I have developed many life-long friendships.”

Kellilyn said her two favorite teachers - her mother, Vivian Johnson, and her grandmother, Joyce Tillison - made a huge impression on her. Her brother, Jason Johnson, is also a teacher and head basketball coach at Alexandria High School. 

“People have always told me about the impact that both my mother and grandmother made on their lives, and that made me realize that one of the greatest gifts we can give others is to teach,” she said. “I would do it free, that’s how much I enjoy my students.”

Both of Kelliyn’s parents graduated from JHS. Her father is the late Mike Johnson. She’s also the granddaughter of Louise Johnson.

Kellilyn and her husband, Tim, have been married 12 years. Tim, a native of North Carolina, is production manager at Tyco in Anniston. Their children, Lauren, 9, and Madison, 6, attend Kitty Stone Elementary School.

They met through christianmatchmaker.com. They began talking online in November and met for the first time in February in Douglasville, Ga. They agreed to meet halfway, but her parents would only allow her to drive as far as Douglasville.

“They were nervous about it,” said Kellilyn. “The cell phones we had back then weren’t as reliable as they are now.”

Kellilyn said she was at the point in her life where she knew God was showing her that He wanted her to be with a man who would be a wonderful father to her children, a good husband to her and a spiritual leader in their home - in other words - someone like her own father.

“I was looking for all these qualities,” she said. “When we met I already knew a great deal about him because of our communication. That first time we met and spent the afternoon together, it confirmed to me that God had put him in my life, and I wanted to spend more time with him to see if he was truly the one.”

Kellilyn was educational leadership consultant for her sorority which required her to travel seven days a week. She and Tim only managed to see each other about every six weeks.

That changed when they said their wedding vows in August 2001.

Kellilyn has played the piano at Leatherwood Baptist Church since 2003.

She credits her talent to the Lord and her teacher, the late Jan Rhodes.

“I took lessons from Jan from the time I was 6 years old until my freshman year in college,” said Kellilyn. “I loved Jan and was honored to be her student. I also took for a while from Dr. Susie Francis Dempsey.”

Kellilyn helps lead Bible study from time-to-time, and Tim and Kellilyn teach a young married Sunday School class. She and her family enjoy serving in various capacities within their church. 

She enjoys running and is currently training for a half marathon in November in Savannah. She also likes to cook, shop, read and write.

“I had a wonderful experience with the writing project at JSU through Gloria Horton,” said Kellilyn. “Through that experience I was able to revisit writing on a personal level instead of just in the classroom.”

She likes to read Karen Kingsbury’s Christian fiction books, young adult novels that she teaches during the year, and her Bible.

Kellilyn said there are many things she appreciates.

“I’m so thankful that I’m from Jacksonville and that I’m a part of such a thriving community,” she said. “We have dynamic leaders, a wonderful school system and a prestigious university. We’re in a great part of Alabama and should all be thankful for the resources we have around us.”

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com.


Grandmother's Pound Cake

(From the kitchen of Louise Johnson Potts and Jane Gowens)

3 c. flour
3 c. sugar
¼ t. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 c. shortening
8 oz. sour cream
1 t. vanilla flavoring
7 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray and flour fluted pan with Pam. Mix

shortening and sour cream. Then add in sugar. Blend well. Sift flour.

Mix flour, salt and baking soda. Add to mixture by adding an egg and a

little flour mixture. Alternate. Add vanilla flavoring. Pour into pan.

Bake for one hour and 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Maw Maw's Meatloaf

(From the kitchen of Joyce Angel Tillison)

1 ½ lb. ground beef
Salt and pepper
½ c. ketchup
2 well-beaten eggs
½ c. chopped green pepper
½ c. chopped purple onions
1 pk. crackers, crumbled, or 1 c. bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Place in a loaf pan.

Sauce to cover
½ c. brown sugar
2/3 c. ketchup
1 ½ t. dry mustard

Mix ingredients well and pour on top of loaf. Bake for one hour until bubbly.

Mom's Crockpot Dressing

(From the kitchen of Vivian Johnson)

3 lbs. chicken
8 slices white bread, torn
1 (8 inch) skillet of cornbread
4 eggs
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 t. sage
1 med. onion, chopped
½ c. chopped celery
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. butter

In large pan, cook chicken and cut into chunks. Reserve broth. In a

mixing bowl, combine torn white bread and crumbled cornbread. Add

eggs, sage, onion, celery, salt and pepper. Add 2 soup cans of reserved chicken broth. Stir in chicken. Place mixture in crockpot. Dot butter on top. Cook on low 4-5 hours.

Mom's Mexican Cornbread

From the Kitchen of Vivian Johnson

1 c. buttermilk
1 c. corn meal
2 eggs, well beaten
1 lg. can cream style corn
½ lb. hamburger meat
1 lg. purple onion, chopped
½ pk. Mozzarella cheese
½ pk. Cheddar cheese
Jalapeno peppers to taste

Grease skillet and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown meat and drain.

Mix corn meal, eggs, buttermilk and corn. Sprinkle cornmeal on hot skillet. Pour ½ of batter in skillet. Add onions, cheese, meat and pepper. Pour remainder in top. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Bread will turn loose from skillet better if allowed to cool first.
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Special to The Star

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