Weekly Newspaper covering Marion, Schley, Chattahoochee, Webster, and Stewart Counties.
It did my heart good to listen to Superintendent Richard McCorkle offer words of encouragement to students last Thursday evening at the Academic Awards Dinner at Marion County Middle/High School.
It also took me back to the red clay of a local baseball field 31 years ago. The superintendent was a youth ball coach back then and while he wasn’t as polished, he already had a gift for inspiring young people.
I was 13-years-old and probably about 4 11 (if I had cleats on) and 89 pounds (90 if some of that red clay was stuck in the cleats). I did not look much like an athlete and I am sure Mr. McCorkle wa not figuring on me ever getting off the bench.
However, he said things that made me believe he thought I could handle a glove like Ozzie Smith and swing a bat like Rod Carew. Neither would prove to be true, but it was enough to make me believe in myself, continue to work hard, and help my team win a couple of championships.
Last Thursday night, he probably had an easier motivation job, as he was speaking to the elite group of All-A students, but his message to them was much more important. At this point they all know they’re smart enough to make good grades, but some of them surely need a strong voice to inspire them to greater heights down the road once their years in middle/high school are over.
He told them the story of a student whose teacher gave the class an assignment to write about their main goal for the future and a plan for how to make it happen. One student wrote about how he wanted to have the largest horse ranch in Texas.
The teacher, knowing the kid was from a family of limited means and accomplishments, told him to go home, scale the plan back to something more realistic, and then turn it back in the next day. His dad, however, told him he was as good as anybody and not to change it.
So, he turned the paper in with no changes and when he got it back it has a big red ZERO on it.
Years later that teacher went to a conference at the largest horse ranch in Texas. Hanging in a frame above the mantle was that paper with the big red zero.
After telling the story, the superintendent told the students to continue to work hard, believe in themselves, and believe that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to. That is exactly the kind of thing we should all be telling our kids (assuming we also make sure they do the hard work, too).
He also told them to stay away from negative people. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.
I’ll never forget the words that one of my former teachers said when he heard I was going to return home at 26 and start my own newspaper.
“He will never make it.”
My Mom said not to pay any attention to it. My Dad said ... well, I probably should not repeat it in print.
That has been 17 years ago and while the little newspaper you now hold in your hands is a far cry from the largest horse ranch in Texas, it was my dream and I was told I could not do it.
I do not have anything hanging above my mantle as a reminder, but it is nice to know that as a subscriber that former teacher gets a reminder in the mailbox every week.
Parents: Believe in your children. It will make them believe in themselves.