Our mailbox has been flooded with graduation announcements this spring. We are in the season of life where many friends have students graduating from high school. This is one of my favorite times of year. I remember my own high school graduation with a lot of pride.
In my hometown, graduation week was a big deal. It started on Sunday with a baccalaureate ceremony where our family, friends and local pastors came together to pray over the high school graduates. On the following Friday night, our hometown community gathered on our high school football field to celebrate each student earning their high school diploma. The high school band played, the choir sang, and several people addressed the graduates and their families.
I had the privilege of addressing the class of 1995 as the student body president. I remember feeling honored to speak to my hometown and my graduating class. I had a deep sense of pride in my hometown and my high school. I grew up with a strong desire to make my parents proud and represent all of us well – in band, FFA and in my academic studies.
When I think of the life I was privileged to live in rural southwest Missouri, I have tender memories of all the people who shaped me into the woman I am today. Obviously, my parents shaped my work ethic and my drive for achievement. I was surrounded by friends with like-minded values and goals. Most important, were the teachers whose classrooms I was placed in. There are so many I would still love to go back and thank one more time. There were teachers who disciplined me when I needed it. Teachers who patiently re-taught concepts of algebra and geometry when I struggled. Mostly, we always knew how much our teachers loved us and wanted us to be successful. For those things, I am so thankful.
I stay connected to some of my teachers through social media, some of them have passed on and some are enjoying retirement (I hope). You know who you are – thank you to everyone who teaches and loves this next generation of students, the future of America.
May 1-7, we will have celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week. As a parent, I am so glad to have the opportunity to show our sincere appreciation for the teachers who are making an impact in our children’s lives. Each of my four children has a different learning style. All of them enjoy different subjects at school. I am so grateful for the teachers who have come alongside my husband and I to guide their future. Parents and teachers are the best partners in education. I love talking to teachers who work in our schools to learn more about how we as parents can prepare our students for the exciting future that lies ahead of them.
To the class of 2022 – congratulations! Enjoy all these special moments leading up to your graduation day. Each of you has a field of opportunity in Arkansas and beyond in businesses, trade schools and academic studies. Don’t forget about the people who got you to where you are today – thank your parents and teachers every chance you get. If you know how to read, write and balance your checkbook, you probably have a special teacher to thank, neighbor.
Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’