‘Destined for greaterness’

Michelle Willard, The Murfreesboro Post, February 12, 2012

Nora Peebles, 8, reads to her mom, Racquel, and brother, Gabriel, 4. Racquel Peebles balances being a lawyer in Smyrna, while home schooling her two children. (TMP Photo/M. Willard)

Racquel Peebles always knew she’d practice law in Smyrna.

“My family tells me I always said I wanted to be a lawyer,” Peebles explained, adding she always knew it would be in Smyrna. “People here helped me when I was younger and I wanted to help them and be a benefit to the community.”

Her road to Rutherford County began more than a hundred years ago when her family moved to the area.

“My grandmother still lives in the house she moved into in 1926,” Peebles said.

Since then, the Peebles have been one of the leading black families in the area. Her grandmother Nora Mai Peebles worked for former Smyrna Mayor Knox Ridley, and her aunt Carolyn Peebles is a member of the Rutherford County Election Commission.

But Peebles, 40, tries to impact her community in her own way, by putting her family first.

Her unassuming office sits tucked away in a white-paneled farmhouse on Enon Springs Road East in Smyrna. She shares the building, known as the Victory House, with other local lawyers County Commissioner Robert Stevens and Imogene Bolin, and her children, Nora, 8, and Gabriel, 4.

After Peebles graduated from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, she practiced there for seven years. Then she decided to move back home with her husband, Tony Ross, in 2003.

For several years she practiced every type of law, but with the arrival of her son and decision to home school her daughter, she decided to scale back, focusing now on estate, corporate and family law.

Peebles balances mom and lawyer by working flexible hours and using technology to work from home.

“I try to cater to the needs of my clients without trampling over the needs of my family,” she said. “I believe they expect sound legal advice.”

She tries to give her kids sound advice too.

“Our family motto is ‘Destine for Greaterness,’” she explained. “I always tell my children to be better than me, and I try to give them better than what I was given.”

Growing up with her grandmother, even though they didn’t have a lot, she was given everything she needed – love, support, protection.

“I never wanted for anything but was given what mattered,” Peebles said.

Her parents and grandmother always impressed the importance of education, which Peebles is passing on to her children.

By home schooling, she hopes to teach her children the importance of education.

Her decision to home school was based on personal experiences she had while practicing juvenile law.

“I saw children who weren’t making good decisions … And those things start at home,” she said. “I didn’t want to take care of other people’s kids and not my own.”

So she started at home. Because her daughter was reading by 3 years old, Peebles decided to home school.

“I just believe African-American children, sometimes their qualities get overshadowed and I didn’t want that to happen to my children,” she said.

She explained Nora’s intelligence might have been a liability in public school.

“I didn’t want them to get caught up in the system,” she said.

As for being a mom, a teacher and a lawyer, she said “some days are better than others” but her husband and family help out when things get busy.

And home schooling both kids doesn’t help with the busy schedule.

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