OPINION COLUMNS

Christmas wishes for the teachers among us

By Roy J. Eaton | Published Saturday, December 28, 2013

The start of a new year is always exciting for me, providing an avenue of optimism and a “fresh start” on a 12-month adventure in life.

Roy J. Eaton

Roy J. Eaton

The new year will be especially exciting for our family with a new daughter-in-law and two granddaughters graduating – one from high school and the other from Texas Christian University. The high school grad is headed for University of North Texas to study graphic arts, and the college graduate is applying to graduate school to work on her PhD in psychology.

For the first time we will have a teacher in our family, and we are thrilled. My admiration for educators is great. Spending eight hours a day in a classroom is something I could never do, so my respect for the profession is tremendous.

I notice the Decatur School Board is considering an $800,000 addition to the Decatur High School agriculture facilities. I can think of no better way to invest our tax dollars.

DHS agriculture science teachers Jim Allsup, Mark Goggins and Joey Brooke have created a program that has become a magnet for students, and the classrooms and project areas are overflowing.

Superintendent Rod Townsend said if the facilities are not enlarged, some students may have to be turned away from the program. That would be a shame. Some of my most valuable lessons were learned in the FFA program at Northwest High School and now, more than 60 years later, I still use the skills I learned from great teachers Jack Lewis and Mays Fuqua.

Vocational education has a bright future in Texas, thanks to legislation passed last year. Townsend explained to a recent Chamber of Commerce luncheon that there are now “three paths” to graduation, and one of them leads to vocational and technical programs.

Weatherford College Wise County works closely with high schools to develop workforce training programs to meet the needs of business and industry in our county.

The influence of good teachers stays with us our entire lives. Recently, I have been working on a project to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church in Decatur. Architects of that stately structure knew the value of music to a worship service and designed the building to make sure beautiful choir music could be enjoyed by all worshippers.

One prominent educator, who also directed the choirs at the Methodist church, was Elouise James. A few days before Christmas, Leisa Gettys Waylett, whose parents were both outstanding educators, remembered Ms. James in a Facebook post.

“As I sit here enjoying this Dallas Symphony Orchestra presentation, I am appreciating more and more my upbringing in a small town with family and friends who truly knew what Christmas was about and celebrated accordingly.

“I have very special kudos for Ms. Elouise James, our music teacher throughout most of my school years, for teaching us kids almost, if not all, of the beautiful Christmas music that celebrated Jesus Christ and all that surrounds him.

“What a blessing that woman was to all of us kids. In a world where Christmas is shunned and in some schools is totally silenced, my generation and many others before me were schooled in religious principles and reverence by Ms. James. Thank you, dear woman.”

As our teachers enjoy a well-deserved holiday break, Leisa’s words ring true today as we pause for a moment to thank them for their hard work in molding the lives of our children who will be the leaders of Wise County in the future.

Happy New Year, everybody, from all of us at The Mess. We hope it will be your best year ever.

Roy Eaton is publisher of the Wise County Messenger.

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