Thank a teacher for that

Published 8:42 am Friday, March 6, 2009

If I’ve learned anything from Facebook, it’s that decisions you make in high school could, and often do, impact the rest of your life.

I know this because my high school newspaper advisor and much beloved teacher, Miss Betty Sue Wrenn, told me that I would grow up to be a journalist, and I decided that she was right.

I know this because when I check out my friends on Facebook, I see that Mike “the band geek” became an assistant band director and Ben and Terry, top dogs in our school’s Junior ROTC program, went on to become distinguished military men.

Besides being a lot of fun to explore, Facebook, a social networking tool that has caught on like wildfire, gives us solid proof that what kids do and learn in high school really matters.

Profiles there can reveal that a star on the football team sometimes does go pro, that the shy girl who outpaced everyone in anatomy class would become a doctor, that the girl we sought out to blab all of our high school drama to would later become a counselor.

It seems like there is much to malign in our schools these days.

Some gripes I’ve heard include: There are too many students and too few teachers. Kids are more interested in sports than grades. Test scores aren’t up to par. Parents aren’t involved. Funds are always being cut. Students who are disruptive in class make it hard for others to pay attention and learn.

And, yet, there are children who emerge from these situations, and more, as stars. Our goal, as a newspaper, is not only to report the bad news — and sometimes it seems like there is plenty — but to shine a spotlight on the good, especially on those children who prove that children can and will succeed.

Take Roy Boyd, for example. He was the only student at Franklin High School to earn a perfect score on his Standards of Learning test in January. Say what you want about FHS, but it’s Boyd’s school and he must be learning something there.

And what about Walter Francis, a kid at Southampton Middle School who spelled his way to second place in a regional spelling bee, Timothy Kreider, a fifth-grader at S.P. Morton Elementary who likes to program robots, or Grant Scarboro, an eighth-grader at J.P. King Middle School whose moving essay about why America is great has won accolades and was admitted into a national competition?

Roy, Walter, Timothy and Grant have dedicated teachers who have lit a fire under them.

On Sunday we will honor teachers in the Franklin School District for their commitment to our kids and their education by running a photo of the teachers of the year. These teachers give our kids direction and hope. Sometimes they’re the first to notice a spark of interest in a child and the first to nurture their budding talents. Miss Betty Sue Wrenn certainly did that for me and I am eternally grateful for it.

Parents, too, should be commended for insisting that their children succeed in school and for following through to make sure that happens.

I don’t know what makes up the secret formula to having a well-rounded and smart child like Roy, Walter, Timothy or Grant.

But I do know that teachers, community and parents are main ingredients.

Years from now we’re going to see these young men on Facebook or some other social networking Web site touting their many accomplishments.

And, somewhere, a teacher is going to say, “I knew it!”