In the 1980s, Gadsden State instructor George Terrell’s American History 201 and 202 classes included a pair of outstanding students – brothers Matthew and Mark Mills. Fast-forward a few decades and Terrell found himself teaching more members of the Mills’
family–Matthew’s twin sons Micah and Jonah, and Mark’s son Austin. The common theme among the Mills’ family members, Terrell said, is that all have been great students. “They blew the top off with their grades,” Terrell said of the three cousins he taught recently as dual enrollment students from Coosa Christian.
Matthew Mills has had four sons attend Gadsden State through the dual enrollment program. Of them, three–Canaan and twins Micah and Jonah–have had Terrell as an instructor. He has two daughters and expects them to also participate in dual enrollment. Mark Mills’ oldest son, Austin, just completed his first year of dual enrollment classes at Gadsden State. Mark said his other children–entering the 10th, 9th and 8th grades in the fall, may continue the tradition of dual enrollment at GSCC.
“They have been very productive for Gadsden State,” Terrell said, jokingly, of Matthew and Mark, noting that between the two brothers, they have 10 children. Terrell said it may not be unusual that generation after generation of a family further their educations at Gadsden State, but he thinks it was quite a coincidence that so many of the Mills’ ended up in his class…or maybe not.
Matthew Mills said he recommended that his children take classes with Terrell if possible, just as he did to others after he had Terrell as an instructor. He was interested in history, but it was not a passion for him. Terrell’s class, he said, was a good one. “He made it interesting. I told them you won’t find a better teacher than him,” Mills said. “We love Mr. Terrell,” he said, adding that he did physical therapy on Terrell recently for a severe elbow injury. After Gadsden State, Matthew Mills went on to get a doctorate in physical therapy and is now a therapist at Rehab Partners.
His brother Mark, who was a student at Gadsden State in the mid-80s, continued his education at Auburn, in engineering. He currently has a contracting business in Gadsden. Like Matthew, he has positive memories of Gadsden State, classes with Terrell, and all the instructors he had while a student. Those positive associations have continued as his son and nephews have made Gadsden State part of their educations. Dual enrollment will allow Austin and his cousins to have approximately a year of college credit by the time they graduate high school. All three will be seniors at Coosa Christian next year.
When asked which generation produced the best students, Mark said he thought his son Austin is the better student. “I’m sure Matthew’s kids are better students than he was,” Mark said, although, he noted, his brother did go on to be the doctor of the family.
The members of the younger generation have been pleased with the Gadsden State experience. Austin Mills said he’s enjoyed his dual enrollment classes, finding them more challenging than high school classes. He said he’s not sure what his plans for the future are, but he feels his dual enrollment classes have given him some inside knowledge. “I have a better idea what college is going to be like,” Austin said, thanks to his Gadsden State classes.
Jonah Mills said he enjoyed getting to spend time with his brother and cousin when they had classes together at Gadsden State. He said also he and his brother enjoyed the structure of dual enrollment classes–meeting twice per week, rather than every day–and the fact that they will have college credit when he graduates high school. He said his dad and his older brother had recommended classes with George Terrell when Micah and he were enrolling, and the advice was appreciated.
“We really liked his class. It was fun,” Jonah said.