Patricia Clayton counsels PMS students
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Jan 30, 2014 | 1355 views |  0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patricia Gilmore Clayton had excellent role models growing up in the Birmingham area -- her parents -- and, in particular, her mother.

Patricia’s father worked at the steel mill in Fairfield, and her mother was in nursing education. She was dean of several schools of nursing, including the University of Alabama and Samford University. In fact, she started many of the nursing schools that exist in Alabama today.

Patricia has spent the past 22 years of her life in education, either as a teacher or as a counselor. She is currently counselor to the 280 students at Piedmont Middle School.

“I moved from a much larger school, and I like it here very much because I know most of the students,” she said. “It’s really very enjoyable. I had 2500 students in grades 6-8 in Orlando, so I like having only 280 students. You get to know your students and their parents much better.”

Patricia believes that middle school grades are an exciting time that mark the beginning of an important new phase in a child’s education and personal development. The curriculum is more varied and goes into more detail, and students have more activities available to them.

“It’s a time to begin seriously thinking about careers, life choices and plans for higher education,“ she said. “It can also be a bewildering time. Students in the middle grades change rooms and teachers throughout the day. Students worries that they may not find her way from room to room. Will they remember their locker combination? What if they don’t know anyone in their classes? Will they be able to complete homework?”

Patricia said her purpose for Piedmont Middle School guidance is to provide a comprehensive, developmental counseling program addressing the academic, career, personal and social development of all students.

“In partnership with educators, parents, and community members, the program is designed to facilitate a support system to ensure students are prepared with the knowledge and skills to contribute at the highest levels of society,” she said. “We strive to ensure that each individual student is provided opportunities to develop personally and socially through understanding themselves and others and that they develop their full academic potential for a successful future.”

Patricia said she loves what she does.

“Our parents instilled the right values in us and helped us make appropriate choices,” she said. “My mother was in education, so that was what I knew to do.”

Though she’s currently fulfilling her dream of working with and helping children, when her own children were younger she was a stay-at-home mom.

“But at that point, I was actively involved in their schools and I was PTA president for six years at the elementary, middle and high school level,” she said. “So even though I wasn’t teaching, I was at school every day.”

Her teaching background includes English and special education.

Patricia and her husband Ronnie moved here 14 years ago from Orlando. Ronnie is the Glenn Huie Chair and Eminent Scholar and professor of finance at Jacksonville State University. They met while attending the University of Alabama. They’ve lived in several southern states, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida. Ronnie was born in Florida and grew up on Sand Mountain in DeKalb County.

Patricia graduated from Ensley High School in Jefferson County.

The Claytons have three children. Ashley lives in Tuscaloosa and is event and tour coordinator for the University of Alabama Alumni Association. Jeremy is youth minister at the First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. Gregory is a fitness trainer and part-time youth minister in Tuscaloosa.

Patricia enjoys shopping and exercising. She takes Zumba, yoga, pound and step aerobics.

“I want to live a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “And it helps the stress level.”

Patricia grew up with two brothers, one older and one younger. She said she had the usual household chores such as cleaning house, keeping her room clean, helping her mother cook and cleaning the kitchen.

Now that the Clayton children are grown, Patricia said she and Ronnie have changed roles in the kitchen. He cooks more often now than she does.

“We just switched roles,” she said. “That makes me happy.”

She has some favorite recipes and shares some of them. In particular, the sugar cookies are a Christmas tradition that started when Ashley was about 3 years old.

“Each Christmas since we have cooked and decorated cookies at Christmas,” said Patricia. “This tradition has continued for more than 25 years.”

Contact Margaret at


Corn Casserole

2 lbs. frozen shoepeg white corn (or several cans of shoepeg white corn, drained)
1 pt. heavy cream
¼ c. baking mix
Salt and pepper to taste
1 stick melted butter

Thaw frozen corn. Mix in heavy cream, melted butter, baking mix, salt and pepper. Spray large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Put corn mixture in dish. Bake at 350 degrees until brown around edges (30-40 minutes). Serve hot.

Pretzel Strawberry Salad

2 c. crushed pretzels
1 stick butter
¼ c. sugar

Mix together and press into baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

2 c. Cool Whip
1 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 c. confectioner’s sugar

Mix together until smooth. Spread over cooled crust.

1 – 6 oz. pkg. strawberry jello
2 c. boiling water

Mix and put in refrigerator to begin to gel. (Do this first.)

2 – 10 z. pkgs. frozen strawberries.

Spread over cream cheese mixture. Allow all to cool. Cut and serve.

Sugar Cookies

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
6 T. butter
1/3 c. Crisco shortening
¾ c. white sugar
1 egg
1 T. milk
1 t. vanilla

Mix all ingredients. Chill for at least 3 hours. Roll and cut into shapes. Ice as desired.

Maw Maw's Sweet Potato Casserole

4-5 med. large sweet potatoes
3 whole eggs
1 c. light brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 c. chopped pecans (can use walnuts for slightly different taste)
1 t. vanilla flavoring

Peel and slice potatoes. Boil until fully cooked and tender. Cool. Using an electric mixer beat well. Add eggs, both sugars, and flavoring. Mix well. Add additional brown sugar to taste. Mix in pecans or walnuts or both if you prefer. Spray casserole dish with non-stick spray. Put mixture in dish.


1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. 1 minute oatmeal
1 c. light brown sugar
½ c. baking mix
1 stick butter (salted or unsalted as you choose)

Mix all ingredients together. Spread over top of potato mixture. Melt 1 stick of butter and drizzle over topping. Bake at 350 degrees until set and topping is browned. Serve hot.

Cran-Apple Casserole

4-5 lg. red delicious apples
1 lb. bag of cranberries, washed thoroughly
2 c. white sugar

Peel and chop apples, cranberries and sugar in large bowl. Spray large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into the casserole dish. Prepare topping as for sweet potato casserole. Top the cranberry-apple mixture. Melt butter and drizzle over topping. Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour until the mixture begins to gel. Serve hot.s
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Patricia Clayton counsels PMS students by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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