Mother’s Day has almost arrived. As an adult, you can fully appreciate all your mother has done for you, so, on this occasion, you may be happy to give Mom flowers, candy, jewelry or something similar. But Mother’s Day is here and then it’s gone. Is there a longer-term gift that can make a real difference in your mother’s life?
Columns & Editorials
Mother’s Day is celebrated traditionally the second Sunday in May since it became an official national holiday in 1914. The example our mothers give us on how to be caring, giving adults is truly invaluable. They show us that being present and active in children’s lives creates better humans. And in that same way, teachers oftentimes become surrogate mothers (and dads) for their students since teachers are with them anywhere from 7-9 hours a day. No single event demonstrated better how competent and caring the teachers in Forney ISD were than the Spring of 2020 when schools had to close due to COVID protocols. And did they rise to the occasion! Helping parents become classroom competent and still teaching--going straight from in classroom to virtual teaching in basically a week.
A few years ago, I told you the story of how I re-connected with friend Lee McDermott, a successful insurance man here in Forney who I knew as a kid in Floresville, Texas south of San Antonio. There is a very cool addition to the story, albeit a sad and glorious circumstance.
In schools, our students come to us from a larger community of friends, family, and other loved ones, most of whom are typically invested in our students’ social and academic well-being. The village that surrounds our students is critical to their overall achievement. It is unfortunate that teachers aren’t afforded the time they need to become part of the villages represented in their classrooms. Never before have our schools experienced such social, academic, neuro, racial, cultural, religious, socioeconomic, and other diversity. This rich diversity has the potential to positively impact the lives and social awareness of students, faculty, parents and communities.
A study from the Gap Year Association found that 77 percent of students who take a gap year do so between high school and college. Parents may not know how to react when their soon-to-be or newly minted high school graduates bring up the idea of taking a gap year, but additional findings from the GYA’s “National Alumni Survey” might inspire parents to look at gap years more positively. For example, the survey, the findings of which were based on the responses of hundreds of American and Canadian citizens who had taken gap years in the past, found that 98 percent of respondents indicated their gap years helped them develop as a person, while 96 percent felt their gap years improved their self-confidence. In addition, 84 percent of respondents felt that they acquired skills to be successful in their careers during their gap years. Perhaps of most interest to parents of high school students contemplating gap years is that 73 percent of survey respondents felt their gap years increased their readiness for college and 57 percent said their gap years helped them determine what they wanted to study in college.
On April 22, we observe Earth Day, an occasion that has inspired millions of people over the decades to take steps to clean up our world. Of course, your physical surroundings are important, but you also operate in other “ecosystems” – social, cultural and political. And you’ll need to consider your investment environment, too. How can you improve it?
Of all professions, it seems that its always open season for criticizing teachers, especially within the system itself. Teachers are often blamed for student behavior, lack of achievement, parent complaints and other occurrences that are out of their control. For example, I have seen teachers criticized for not knowing why students behave the way they do. I have also seen teachers criticized for students’ lack of achievement. Teachers are often blamed or held responsible for outcomes where they have no power or authority to influence action or change. I refuse to bash teachers, because in the words of the great gospel songstress Mahalia Jackson, I know the troubles we’ve seen, and I know, too well, our sorrows.
Dear Aunt B Readers,
In 1906, William Seymour was a newly discovered Pentecostal preaching phenomenon, just settling into his new life in Los Angeles after leaving his interim pastor gig in Topeka and preaching his way through Houston. A 34-year-old one-eyed son of freed slaves, William’s Houston sermons were the food for Neely Terry’s soul. Neely was in Houston visiting friends, but she was a devout attendee at a small holiness church in LA, pastored by a woman, no less. Impressed with William’s character, Neely reached out to Pastor Julia Hutchins, and within 2 days of Seymour’s arrival in LA, he was a Cali preacher. It didn’t go well. Church elders weren’t ready for Pastor Seymour’s proclivity to both speak in tongues and offer up his interpretation of that act as proven biblical infilling in the Holy Spirit. Translation: they padlocked the door on William Seymour. But, that didn’t sit well with the church’s more progressive members, who followed Seymour to the home of Richard & Ruth Asberry where they studied the Bible. Soon, they took their traveling congregation to a ramshackle building near downtown LA. The newly named Apostolic Faith Mission had a home at 312 Azusa Street. By May of 1906, before the women’s suffrage movement and during the height of the establishment of Jim Crow law, the people came: black, white, Asian, indigenous, immigrant, wealthy, destitute, illiterate, well educated. They sat on planks. They sat on empty kegs. As many as 1500 people began gathering to listen to William Seymour, who often preached in 24-hour increments. First-hand accounts reported the blind with restored vision, diseases cured, and people of non-English languages suddenly able to communicate. The odd hours and unending sermons gave the event a panoramic title – The Azusa Street Revival. Among its attendees were the McConnells, whose son, J.S. McConnell helped found the Assemblies of God. Still, the Azusa Street Revival isn’t even our topic today. For that, we have to look to J.S. McConnell’s son, John, called the world’s most influential spiritual leader by former United Nations Secretary, Kurt Waldheim. John Mc- Connell spearheaded the Star of Hope peace movement of 1957 and the Minute for Peace movement that began in 1963. He led the group Meals for Millions during the early 60s. And, in 1968, to celebrate the spring equinox, he coined a term during a presentation to the UNESCO Conference. John McConnell gave us Earth Day. Except, April 22nd does not fall on the spring equinox. Soon, grasshoppers.
A Spring Hunt
You might contribute to your IRA for decades to help pay for your retirement. But if you don’t need all the money, you may want to leave what’s left to your children or grandchildren. However, if you want to ensure they get the most from this inheritance, you’ll need to do some planning.
In parts of Europe, parents hold off on formally educating children until they are “ready to learn”. In Finland, students start school “late,” receiving no formal instruction until age seven. Finnish daycare centers often replace reading, writing and math instruction with opportunities for creative play. Kindergarten in Finland is not geared to prepare students for primary instruction. Instead, the focus of “education” revolves heavily around specifically structured play and physical activity. The goal is to ensure children are happy and age-appropriately responsible.
A few years ago at Mc- Donald’s, Sonic, 7-Eleven, and others—“Themer, what are you doing, and how can you drink that? And, WHY?”
History repeats itself for the Forney Education Foundation. Once again, the Annual Gala and Casino Night has sold out ahead of the date, which this year is set for Saturday, April 24 at Hidden Creek in Heath. This year’s theme is Mardi Gras and we have the usual gaming plus the Incredible Edibles table, Live and Silent Auctions, DJ and dancing, and - new this year - a Wine Pull! The amazing support shown by the sponsors and community will enable FEF to continue its support of the teachers, staff, and students in Forney ISD and is going to make our annual Gala as amazing as always.
Dear Aunt B,