Former Bogalusa educator has Dillard award named after her

Published 8:29 am Friday, May 8, 2015

Dillard University of New Orleans has named an alumni recruiting award in honor of former Bogalusa High School guidance counselor Ada Hannibal Green, who worked 39 years for the city’s schools. Green directed more than 100 students to Dillard and helped many of them attain scholarships.

Green, her family and many of her friends and students plan to attend a ceremony at the Hyatt Hotel in New Orleans on May 9 at 6 p.m. as the university presents its first Ada Green Recruitment Award to the alumni chapter and individual with the greatest number of students to enroll at Dillard University in the preceding fall and spring semesters combined.

“I am so humbled and honored to know that my alma mater thinks enough of my efforts over the years to name this award after me,” Green said. “I never did it to receive any glory. I just wanted to help young people get a college education at a place where I knew they would have the best chance to be successful. To God be the glory.”

Green said she received much help from another longtime educator, Emma Ross, the former principal of Varnado High School who retired in 2011 after 41 years at the school.

Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Green would call Ross and ask, “You got any good students?” Ross would respond with referrals of some of the top students from the Varnado/Angie area.

“We are all so excited to hear about this award because she deserves it,” Ross said. “She was such an asset to the community. She invested a lot of her life to children of the community. I’m just so grateful to Dillard for honoring her.”

Green had a direct pipeline to Dillard through the close relationship she developed with Vernese B. O’Neal, who at the time was the university’s director of admissions. O’Neal not only visited Bogalusa annually to recruit but also hosted students from the Bogalusa area on Dillard’s campus. O’Neal died in September 2007.

“I’ll never forget Mrs. O’Neal,” Green said. “I could call her and get some students in Dillard over the phone.”

Green said she is thrilled that so many of the students she helped guide to Dillard have been successful in their careers. Not all of them were A and B students in high school, she said, but the important thing to her is that they are good citizens.

“Something about a ‘C’ student I liked,” Green said. “I was more interested in putting out good citizens than master scholars.”

Perhaps in those students, Green said, she saw a bit of herself.

“I stress that I was not an ‘A’ student,” she added.

Green grew up in New Orleans, and as she sometimes playfully threatened her students, “I went to school on Rampart Street, and I’m crazy.”

Her mother, Irene Greene, was a master teacher, who taught in the Education Department at Dillard for 30 years. Her father, Jerome Greene Sr., was one of the city’s jazz greats.

Green was just 15 years old when she finished high school in the 11th grade and graduated from McDonogh 35 High School in 1945. She became the fifth generation in her family to attend Dillard — the older generations had attended Straight College and New Orleans University, which ultimately united to form Dillard. But at such a young age, Green was hardly ready for the social freedom and academic rigor of college.

“I didn’t even know what college was,” she said.

Somehow, though, did well enough to graduate in 1950 and earn a scholarship to attend Atlanta University to work on her master’s degree. She was at Atlanta University in 1951 when she met a fellow graduate student, A.L. Jordan, the Bogalusa principal who recruited her to work in the segregated school system at Central Memorial. Green had never even heard of the small city north of Lake Pontchartrain, but she was eager to find a job outside the city of New Orleans.

“Mama knew everybody in New Orleans. I wanted to go out on my own and make a name on my own, not because I was somebody’s daughter,” Green said.

Adrian Guy Anderson, director of alumni relations at Dillard, said the many stories she heard about Green’s recruiting efforts made the decision to name the award in her honor “a no-brainer.”