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"Well, my man, you're in the right church, but the wrong pew."
Quote from Mac Fleming, referring to having good ideas but drawing the wrong conclusion.

"Well, boys, today the biggest fly in the ointment is about to come rumbling down the tracks"
Quote from Mac Fleming, to class of '62 as a prelude to Mac's announcement of an assignment to be completed during their SUMMER VACATION. (Horrors)

Indian Springs: Last original member of faculty,
Fleming knows "kids are kids"

The Birmingham News
Wednesday, June 8, 1994

In 1952, when land in north Shelby County could sell for about $200 an acre, MacDonald B. Fleming arrived from Tennessee to become one of the original faculty members at Indian Springs School.

Fleming, a South Carolina native lured to Indian Springs by Louis Armstrong, the school's first director, figured he'd stay about a year.

After all, he wanted to go back to school to finish his doctorate at Peabody College, which is now Vanderbilt University.

That one year turned into 42. Now Fleming, at 71 years of age and as the last original faculty member teaching at the school, has retired.

"It turned out to be a fascinating job, and so unique that I wanted to stay," he said.

Fleming has taught economics, Western European history, American government and is involved with the school's academic and discipline committees.

He's taught at least one of those courses to at least 95 percent of all the students who have ever attended the school--and that's a lot of kids.

"They all think I can remember them," Fleming joked. "I guess it's like a lot of people my age--you remember those who were here a long time ago, yet you have trouble remembering those who were here last year."

Of late, Fleming's been teaching the children of those long-ago students and he sees many of his former students who have gone on to achieve great things.

"I get a good laugh by telling the parents that I won't fink on them to their children," he said. "I love interacting with my students--that's been the high-water mark of my career."

In teaching history for four decades, Fleming said he's noticed students tend to react the same as they always have.

They seem more interested in the present than the past at first. But he gets a lot of joy from talking to students who say the present makes more sense now that they've gained some perspective.

"It's hard when you're 16 years old and you assume things are the same as they were then and will be in the future," he said. "History gives you perspective, and it changes, like society."


Fleming's teaching career at the school spans four decades that included a world war, the threatened impeachment of a president, Reaganomics and the first Baby Boomer president.

And he has never second-guessed his chosen profession. "I see my career as a seamless whole," he said last week. "Kids are kids, and I never had any questions as to whether I would like to teach. I feel extremely fortunate to have been here."

Fleming doesn't intend to slow down or leave Indian Springs behind now that he's retired. He plans to move from a house on campus to a north Shelby County subdivision and although he and his wife will travel a little, he plans to teach part-time and assist in administrative duties as needed.

"I'm healthy, everything is going well, and as I have said to this administration, it's better for me to decide the time to retire than to have the administrator ask me if I'd like to spend more time with the grandchildren." Fleming said.

"There is a point where it's time to hang it up, but I will always be involved with the school. You can't stay somewhere for more than 40 years and just not be involved any more."

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This page created by M.D. Smith and last modified on Jan 2, 1996