By Emily DeWitt
It’s important to remember that those who care will bring out the best in individuals and push them to become the people they were meant to be. Keith Scruggs, a broadcast journalism teacher at Oxford High School, exemplifies this in every way.
A Senatobia native and a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, his love for broadcast started at a young age. In high school, Scruggs’ English teacher saw something in him he wasn’t yet able to see and introduced him to broadcast journalism.
“As the homecoming court comes across the field, she would read their descriptions and asked me to read them for her that year,” Scruggs said, referring to his English teacher. “I did it and it scared the hell out of me, but it’s the same thing I try to do for kids now. She told me she thought I could do something I didn’t think I could.”
From that day on, Scruggs had a passion for broadcast. While attending college he majored in radio, TV, and film. Scruggs explained that it was a time where the guy on the 6 o’clock news, Walter Cronkite, was everybody’s hero and trusted by all, in the midst of three channels to choose from.
As a young kid, he idolized broadcast reporters and knew that it was something he wanted to be. Unfortunately, the only jobs he was offered were entry-level jobs that were barely above minimum wage.
Scruggs expressed how he couldn’t bear the thought of facing his parents to tell them that he wasn’t going to make much money, especially after they had struggled to put him through college. Instead, he decided to put away the camera and take a job in banking where he stayed for 20 years.
After returning to Oxford, where his wife was going to attend law school, Scruggs decided to change career paths and pursue a different field while he had the opportunity.
“I want to do what I want to do,” he said. “Now it’s my turn and I want to teach. My wife asked me if knew what teachers make, but it’s what I think I would be good at. I loved being in front of people, talking and teaching people how to do things and I knew it wouldn’t be a stretch for me to enter into a classroom for a profession. I was always a good student and loved it and I was comfortable at school.”
Scruggs was presented with an opportunity to teach at Oxford High in the field he had received a degree in 30 years prior. He expressed how happy he was to be sharing what he loved in a job he adored.
“After all these years I’m finally going to get to use the degree I earned way back when. That’s why I’m here today. I don’t teach for the money. I’ve made $100K a year before and it was great it was fun, but I was never totally happy and now I look forward to coming to work, I get to hang out with crazy teenagers all day,” Scruggs said, laughing.
Diala Chaney, a journalism teacher at Oxford High commented on her colleague’s success, performance and dedication he puts into every day to ensure students get his absolute best.
“Mr. Scruggs is a fantastic teacher. He works very hard to give students a hands-on experience in class so that when they graduate, they will have the skills they need to be successful in life and in their careers,” Chaney said.
Scruggs truly wants his students to succeed and believes it is his job to be a support for them whenever they need it.
“(I like) just being observant and putting people in a place where they are going to be comfortable. If they mess up it’s okay. We will bounce back and I have their back,” Scruggs said.
Just as Scruggs’ English teacher did for him, he feels it is his responsibility to be that for his students now.
“My favorite thing about being a teacher is the reward you get when a student gets something and is happy about it. When you help someone achieve something and you see it come to life for them,” he said.
Scruggs said he wouldn’t trade his career for the world. He loves his students and would do anything for them.
“I never had a job on the air or anything. I wanted to be a war correspondent. I wanted to chase a war somewhere. I thought “what if,” but now I have this job and come to grips that this was the way it was supposed to happen. I wouldn’t be able to appreciate this like I do,” Scruggs said.
Molly Tannehill, a student of Scruggs’, expressed the impact he has made on not only her time at Oxford High, but on her peers as well.
“Mr. Scruggs has had a bigger impact on my life than any teacher, and someone we as students can always count on,” Tannehill said. “He introduced me to broadcast journalism last year when I was a freshman and really helped me fall in love with it. Without him giving me this opportunity I would not be where I am today – planning on attending college, majoring in broadcast journalism.
“He has opened my eyes to all the possibilities in this department and continues to push me as a student while encouraging me on the way. Mr. Scruggs has opened more doors for me to succeed. I could not thank him enough.”