Former CSAS students and teachers remember Barbara Bush’s visit

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)– After her death, people in the Tennessee Valley are reflecting about their time meeting the former First Lady.

Back in 1988, when her husband was Vice President, Barbara Bush made stops at Tennessee Valley schools. She first visited students at Oak Grove Elementary School in Cleveland. As an advocate for literacy and special education, she sat in on a Kids on the Block program. Her second stop was at Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences.

“I happened to walk into the school office when she was there. So it was not planned and I did not know I was going to meet her that day. But it was just such fun. It was the first time I met anybody who was in that position,” Susan McCarter said.

McCarter now works at Girls Preparatory School, but in the late 80s she was an English teacher at CSAS. She remembers meeting the former First Lady.

“She was every bit as warm and generous and authentic as what people are saying, how they are describing her now,” McCarter said.

She has a favorite story she likes to tell about their encounter.

“She just kind of leaned over and said, ‘Honey, I need to find a restroom,’ and I said, ‘Yes ma’am of course.’ You know, but I have loved telling that story. I got to take the Vice President’s wife to the bathroom,” McCarter said.

Former CSAS student Chanee Moon got her picture taken with Barbara Bush and it ended up in the yearbook.

“She came actually behind me and she was like, ‘What are you doing?’” Moon recalled.

Students got to show off their musical talents.

“Everybody was able to perform for her and it was very exciting that she basically told me that I was a really good violinist. And her kind words and stuff, I was actually able to graduate from college with a music degree,” Moon said.

What students and teachers remember most is how down to earth the former First Lady was.

“She was so easy to talk to and I know people talk about her being grandmotherly, even back then. But that is what made her so real,” McCarter said.

Meeting Barbara Bush is something they say they’ll always remember.

The former First Lady wrote about her time in Cleveland and Chattanooga in her memoir.

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